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Diamond Jubilee Pavilion
Brilliant sunshine bathed the New Ground on 4th July as pupils lined the path to the Diamond Jubilee Pavilion to welcome the Earl and Countess of Wessex to Brighton for the formal opening of this wonderful new addition to the College. Some of the school's youngest pupils, from its pre-prep school, joined members of college sports teams to wave Union Jacks and applaud the royal couple's arrival. Accompanied by the Head Master, Mr Richard Cairns, Head of School Sasha Morse and the Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex, the Earl and Countess moved slowly up the welcoming line, stopping frequently to talk to pupils before heading inside the new sports pavilion. Here they met governors, senior staff of the school and the architects of the building. Mr Roger Nicholson, Director of Sport, and Mrs Tamsin Back, Head of Netball, accompanied the royal couple as they visited a range of sport displays in the viewing gallery and introduced them to a number of pupils involved in college sport.
They admired the superb views that the Pavilion affords across the New Ground and the Downs beyond before exiting through one of the wide glass doors that lead to the sports fields. Greeted by Director of Music, Mr Chenery - who, coincidentally, had himself sung at their own wedding - the couple applauded a fine performance by the college choir and spent some time chatting with its members.
The Earl and Countess then moved out into the fields to watch matches played by pupils from the College, its prep school and wider family of schools, before returning to the Pavilion to hear the Head Master's words of welcome and appreciation of their visit in this, the Queen's Diamond Jubilee year. The Earl responded, thanking pupils for returning from their holidays to be there to greet them, and urging the children to cheer wildly when he and the Countess unveiled the plaque - an action which he joked was not really always the most interesting part of proceedings! The Earl and Countess then signed the college visitors' book and seemed delighted by the gifts offered for their children, the Lady Louise and James, Viscount Severn: Brighton College Diamond Jubilee mugs, as designed by fourth former Siena Wigley (Williams), together with cricket bats, all specially personalised. Lana Cracknell, a six-year-old pupil of Brighton College Pre-Prep School, then offered the Countess a posy of flowers. Immediately kneeling beside Lana to receive the bouquet and to speak to her - a moment much photographed by the press - the Countess thrilled the Year 1 pupil with her warmth.
As the visit drew to an end, the Head Master accompanied the Earl and Countess to their car. No sooner had the limousine swept away from the New Ground than the clouds closed in once more, and before long rain was again in the air. In a superb break in the year's record wet summer, the royal couple had shared a lovely late afternoon with Brighton College and its pupils in an informal and happy event, whilst marking an important new phase for sport at the school. With ground broken just five months ago by Olympian Daley Thompson, the building has taken shape at a phenomenal rate and will provide parents, pupils and visiting schools with a spectacular yet immensely practical base from which to take part in, and view, college sport.