HRH Duchess of Cornwall visits Holland Park School and meets winner of Creative Writing Competition by First Story

HRH Duchess of Cornwall delighted staff and students last week by visiting Holland Park School in Kensington. Shown around the futuristic looking new school by Head Teacher Coliin Hall, she clearly enjoyed seeing the building and popping in to join in various classes. Admitting that neither Latin nor Science were her particular favourite, it was clear she was more comfortable in the English classes. In addition she visited three classrooms holding ‘creative writing’ classes with schools from across the country, participating in the charity, First Story of which the Duchess is Patron. She was clearly at ease and didn’t just speak with children at the front of the class but ventured to the very back, ensuring every child could claim to have met the Duchess, in years to come. Those who were invited to speak to read out their work, were in the main, rather nervous, but with her encouragement and genuine enthusiasm, nerves were soon dispelled and children from disadvantaged background proved that with the right type of care and nurturing, anything is possible.

The Duchess then attended a synopsis of the Staff production of Much Ado About Nothing, at the end of which she announced and met the winner of the creative writing competition 2014-15. In turn she was presented with a bouquet of flowers and a professionally produced anthology of work by the pupils of First Story. Finally she gave a speech in which she surmised that due to the high standard she had seen that morning, it could well be that one of these pupils may be a famous writer in the future. Inspiration indeed!



All images and copyright: Lucy Elliott

Campden Hill Residents Association, Summer Party

Victoria Borwick captured the spirit of the evening when she declared that nothing really could better a summer’s evening in a beautiful garden square surrounded by neighbours. Emphasising the opportunity to meet the neighbours and enjoy the community commaradarie, the Portobello Jazz Band encouraged young and old to try the odd dance, food and wine delightfully served by 5th and 6th formers of Holland Park School (rated as ‘Outstanding’ for the past four years) and an eclectic range of raffle prizes encouraged those present to part with their money. Rev James Heard, the new Vicar of St George’s Church, was presented with the magnum of champagne he won in the raffle. All in all a wonderfully British sort of evening.

Images and copyright:  Lucy Elliott / www.lucyelliottphotography.com (for more images please see website)



The New Holland Park School

The new Holland Park School has both the X Factor and the Wow Factor, of that there is absolutely no doubt.  The design and internal layout has been very carefully thought out.  In vision it reminded me of the airport at Singapore.  All I can think is those very very lucky children who are going to spend their formative years in such inspirational surroundings.  Every detail, from iMacs to specially designed furniture in maple, to mixed gender loos, to a competitive 25 metre swimming pool, to mesh and copper frontages, to a 1950s style American diner canteen.  They will have it all.

Colin Hall, the Headmaster, absolutely brimming with enthusiasm (and quite rightly, pride), cannot wait for the 19th November when the pupils transfer formally from the ‘old school’ to the new.

The building of the school has not been without controversy, but with time, and once residents get to see the building for themselves I hope they will forget the inconvenience and the wrangle it caused.  The result of such a beautiful building, will surely inspire everyone, but particularly  those who do not come from wealthy backgrounds, that they can achieve anything.

The building is mostly glass, giving a huge sense of light and space despite its housing some 1350 pupils.  To my mind the beautiful bespoke new tables and chairs just waited for some graffiti in traditional school style, particularly on such a momentous occasion ‘i woz ere 19.11.12’ but Colin is quite confident and spoke with pride that his pupils appreciate nice things and that the furniture, well made and very strong, will last for years and years.  The external of the building to the East and West are clad in copper and mesh creating a fluid feeling and one reflecting the nearby trees from either the park or gardens.

The sports grounds available to pupils are larger and better than was previously available  and the sports hall dug deep into the basement is huge – Colin anticipates the standard of games, as well as enthusiasm for sport in general going up dramatically.  And good news for local residents, there are plans in the future to allow local community groups to use the swimming pool and sports hall.

I can only imagine that the school with its classrooms, so light and airy will inspire future generations of pupils to aim higher than they could have ever dreamed.  This is inclusive society at its very best.

Images and copyright:  Lucy Elliott, www.lucyelliottphotography.com


Sir Malcolm Rifkind visits Campden Hill Resident’s Association Summer Party held in Campden Hill Square Gardens

The rain held off, painted faced children ran around and the band played on. A lovely evening with local residents who were plied with canapes and drink by assured and charming pupils from Holland Park School. Old and young thoroughly enjoyed themselves, as so too did Malcolm Rifkind and the Deputy Mayoress of Kensington & Chelsea, Councillor Lady Borwick. As Malcolm commented in his speech, David White, Chair of CHRA is in danger of fast reaching his own diamond jubilee unless another Chair can be found. Raffle prizes were drawn and enthusiastically chosen, pupils presented with Waterstones vouchers as a thank you for their help that evening and the band played on.  A great evening.

Images and copyright:  Lucy Elliott/The Kensington Magazine