School CCF rolls out red carpet for Prince Edward
YOUNGSTERS at Cheltenham College rolled out the red carpet as Prince Edward paid a flying visit.
The Earl of Wessex arrived in helicopter as the school celebrated the 150th anniversary of its Combined Cadet Corps.
He attended a service in the college chapel, where a special memorial was dedicated to the 1,500 old Cheltonians who have given their lives in service to their country since 1841.
Pupils in the college's junior school lined the driveway cheering and waving flags.
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Young troops even got to chat with the dignitary.
It was down to Tom Gossage, 17, to greet the prince after his helicopter had landed on the school playing field.
"I was a little bit nervous," he admitted. "But as soon as I started to talk to him it was absolutely fine.
"He was very approachable and interested to hear about what we have been doing in the CCF and at school generally.
"I told him about cycling from John O'Groats to Land's End over the summer to raise money for charity."
Harriet Lacey, 15, who is in the CCF's army section, also got to have a word with the honorary guest.
"It was quite a thrill," she said. "I'm applying for an Army scholarship to go into the sixth form so we spoke about that."
Following the chapel service, the school put on a range of activities to showcase the rich traditions of its CCF.
They included an assault course and various outdoor command tasks where pupils got to showcase teamwork and leadership skills. Prince Edward took time out to chat to some of the college's longest serving staff, including matrons and stalwarts from the estates team.
"The day was all about service," said Richard Penny, head of the school's CCF.
"It was a really nice touch, and absolutely fitting, that the prince met some of our longest serving members of staff. He seemed to have a very enjoyable day and was happy talking to people as he went around."
The specially commissioned memorial will be moved to the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire next week.
Headteacher Dr Alex Peterken said: "We are especially honoured to be the first school in the country to place a memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum," he said. "I hope it will be a place to which people can go, not only to remember but also to be inspired by the outstanding values and service of Cheltonians all over the world."