September 2017 marked the 40th anniversary of Abbey Gate College opening its doors to pupils. A remarkable achievement borne from the idea of six parents who wanted to create an Independent, co-educational school in the Chester area. It is testament to their tenacity, foresight and vision that the College stands proudly and successfully amongst other Independent Schools in the area. Notable and sustained academic success at both GCSE and A Level has put the College firmly in the spotlight. These results teamed with pupils talented in sport, music, drama and art help to create the self-assured young men and women we associate with Abbey Gate College today. So at this point I would like to wish you all a very happy 40th Birthday!
Speech Day was the start of our special 40th Birthday events and it was wonderful to hear from two of our Founding Governors, Mr Derek Bunting and Mr Trevor Manning-Foster about how and why they set about starting a school from scratch and sharing with us some of the obstacles that they had to overcome. Seventy ex pupils launched our first ever Alumni Ball at Chester Town Hall in September. They enjoyed rekindling past friendships, reminiscing about their favourite lessons and teachers and generally danced the night away with their peers. Earlier on in the day we had opened College up so that they could look around and tell tales of what they used to get up to and how much it had changed since they had last visited. These events are hopefully going to become annual events so if you are an ex pupil or know of any ex pupils who may wish to become part of our Alumni group, I ask you to contact Mrs Sara Knowles at email@example.com
Those of you who have visited both sites since the start of this academic year, will have seen tremendous progress being made across both builds. The all-weather pitch is fast approaching completion – with an opening ceremony being planned for the end of January 2018. It is slightly ironic that just as the last roll of green carpet was laid we had a snow storm which very quickly rendered the perfect green into a winter wonderland scene. Incredibly, the basic shell of the new Infant block at the Infant and Junior School is already, very quickly, taking shape. The Duke of Westminster’s personal interest in the build at Aldford is most welcome and the staff and pupils who attended the ‘breaking the ground ceremony’ witnessed his passion for this particular project.
Girls’ sport in the Senior School this term has taken centre stage. They have had 47 fixtures across 5 sports, netball, hockey, swimming, gymnastics and badminton. The U13 hockey squad reached the semi-finals of the ISA North Hockey Competition and were unlucky to lose out to Queen Ethelburga’s for a place in the final having been beaten in a best out of three ‘shuffle.’ It was a fantastic achievement to finish in third place.
The Year 9 girls took part in the Chester and District Basketball tournament and managed to take third place and four Year 9 girls (captained by Leah Jennings) came second in the Chester and District Badminton Tournament. Charlotte Potter and Lucy Randle finished in the top 20 of the Cross Country competition which now means that they go on to represent Chester in the next round. Congratulations to Keira Meadows who has been selected for the English Schools Ski Association Junior Development Squad at a training camp in Pila, Italy in March next year. The Equestrians have excelled this year, with 8 riders qualifying to compete at the National Schools Equestrian Association Championships on 9 horses in 3 disciplines. The star of the team was Mary Goodridge, who, having competed one horse in the Arena Eventing then swapped onto another to compete as an individual in the dressage, producing a beautiful test to win the Prelim outright by a safe margin, and be crowned National Champion!
The boys have competed in 38 football matches and four rugby fixtures this term. The U13 football team progressed to the quarter finals of the Cheshire Cup and the U16s triumphed in the ISA 8 aside tournament, hosted here at school. The team competed with seven other schools and remained unbeaten over six matches. Congratulations to both Rufus Taylor in Year 7 and William Ashfield in Year 9 who were victorious in their Cross Country races in the Chester and District Tournament and also to James Lanni in Year 9 who is playing football for Chester and District and Dan Pittard-Wheeler in Year 8 who is training with the Welsh football squad. Ben Mason, Year 9, Tristan Brady Year 10 and Tom White in Upper Sixth have all gained representative honours in rugby this term.
At the Infant and Junior School curriculum links have been bolstered with fantastic trips outside of the classroom. J3 had a fabulous time learning about where their food comes when they visited Tescos as part of their Humanities topic and Infant 1 worked with artist Russell Kirk to create Guy Fawkes masks in the Wolf Room at Eaton Hall. Infant 1 and 2 took part in a workshop exploring living things and their habitats on a recent visit to Chester Zoo.
Over 40,000 children entered the Young Writers’ Crazy Creature Competition in the hope of their work being chosen to be printed in a new book called Crazy Creatures – Cheshire Capers, due out on 31 December, 2017. We were delighted that 30 pupils at the Infant and Junior School had their work chosen to be included – well done to them all and we cannot wait to include the book in our school library.
Christmas started early this year when our Chapel Choir was invited to sing at Chester Cathedral as the guest choir for ‘The Spirit of Christmas’ concert in aid of the Neuromuscular Centre in Winsford. They were truly magnificent and sounded splendid and helped in part raise over an amazing £37,500 for the cause. It was a real pleasure to visit our Christmas Tree in the cloisters on the same evening, which had been beautifully decorated by the Infant and Junior School children using our 40th Birthday as the theme and #BeSomeone.
Following on closely, was the fantastic Senior School play – The Wizard of Oz. Running over four evenings there were two casts who really did themselves proud and stunned the audiences. As usual the production was equal to any professional play; the set, costumes and acting simply sublime. Luther the dog, playing Toto really was a model of obedience and certainly added the wow factor!
Thanks must go to the Parents, Teachers and Friends Association who once more put on a spectacular Christmas Fair at the Infant and Junior School. With the help of the staff and pupils it was once again, a positive and magical experience for all involved.
The Infant Nativity ‘Mend the Manger’ once again made the rafters of St John the Baptist Church in Aldford ring as the pupils sang their hearts out, beautifully telling the story of the birth of Jesus.
The Christmas Concert at Chester Cathedral this year, was hauntingly beautiful and allowed us all some time to sit back and reflect on what has been an incredibly busy term. It was wonderful to witness such confidence in our pupils and many thanks must go to Mr Andrews, Mrs Dukes, Mrs Faithfull and Mr Butcher for all their hard work in preparation of this prestigious event.
I was unable to make the Santa Dash in Aldford but I hear that although it was horribly wet and cold the Infant and Junior School children sang beautifully to the residents and local businesses in the village and also managed to raise funds for our chosen charity this year, Acet UK.
It has been an incredibly busy and fulfilling term and I hope that you have all had a chance to view our new video showcasing our fabulous school which can be found on our website www.abbeygatecollege.co.uk
Just two reminders before I close; the pupils are due to return to school after Christmas on Wednesday 3 January, 2018, secondly, both sites will be closed to pupils on Friday 12 January, 2018 whilst we run our Entrance Examinations for all age groups.
All that is now left for me to do, is to wish you all a Merry Christmas and health and happiness for the New Year.
Mrs T Pollard
Published: Thursday, 14th December 2017