After many years of trying to make this happen, I am delighted to report that the new artificial pitch at Browhead was formally opened by Jenny Broomby last Saturday. The old pitch had been lovingly tended by Mr Flint and Mr Chandler and, because of their care, we managed to squeeze more than ten extra years out of its original lifespan. Nevertheless, the new pitch was long overdue and I am really pleased with the finish. There is a thick rubbery cushion beneath the turf and the surface is spongy to walk on. We even have more than 300m of new kickboards around the outside. In terms of a cost per square metre, the astro-turf seems quite reasonable, but the pitch itself covers an area of 6000 square metres so the new pitch is a significant investment for the school.
It was decided to hold an inaugural hockey match between a team of ex-students and current students to mark the occasion and I had not anticipated how much excitement this would create, especially amongst former students. There was much planning and many asked to play. Some even travelled long distances to be here.
It started as a wet morning, but once Jenny cut the ribbon and by the time the game was well underway, the rain just about held off and seldom have I witnessed such a friendly, competitive and good-natured game. It was very well supported and I am especially grateful to all the parents who came to watch. It was an uplifting occasion, with a great sense of fun and purpose exuding from the pitch.
The former students clearly thought they would beat the existing students convincingly, especially as some of them had played for the county, region and even England in their day, but victory was far from assured. Richard and Ben Flint and Holly Nelson are very talented players and an early goal by Richard Flint suggested that it might be a one-sided competition but, in the event, nothing could have been further from the truth. The average age of the ex-students was probably just above twenty-one and they were stronger and faster, but the team of current students, made up of mostly Year 12 and below, were much more agile and the eventual score of 7-6 gave a narrow victory to the ex-students. Oliver McTurk was especially gallant in goal and Harry Broomby was unique in scoring a goal against the team in which his sister was playing, much to her displeasure. The team lists are given below alongside some of the photographs.
I would also like to pay tribute to Mr Kirkpatrick and the catering team for providing a superb afternoon tea, in very British style, at the end of the game.
For more photographs from the event, click here.
Three of our four daughters have been boarders at the Senior School following our unexpected move to Hong Kong in 2012. One moved back to board at Windermere following two years in Hong Kong and our youngest can't wait to follow in her footsteps and return as an overseas boarder into Year 9. We cannot fault the standard of education and care which the girls have enjoyed throughout their Windermere journeys. In particular, we love the location - and the way in which the Lake District becomes part of the curriculum - and the international flavour of the Senior School.
Windermere School is such a unique community to be a part of. Not only is it based in a truly beautiful and inspiring national park, but the environment created by staff and students alike makes for an incredibly supportive, proactive, exciting and international place of learning in which everyone can thrive and be the best they can be.