GALLERY: Royal visit underlines the massive improvements to Neale-Wade Academy, March, in recent times

Princess Royal visit to Neale-Wade Academy.

Princess Royal visit to Neale-Wade Academy. - Credit: Archant

The Princess Royal was in good humour during her visit to March today as she toured the Neale-Wade Academy.

Princess Royal visit to Neale-Wade Academy.

Princess Royal visit to Neale-Wade Academy. - Credit: Archant

It may have been a brief visit but was of considerable significance, she was told by the principal Jason Wing.

He said the visit would not only inspire the school, its teachers and students but would have a role in “raising aspirations and that is fantastic”.

He told Her Royal Highness that there wouldn’t be many school children who could proudly say “they have seen you at their school”.

The Princess Royal told guests, following a tour of class rooms and inspecting several school projects, that she has seen much evidence of Neale-Wade boosting local career ambitions.

Princess Royal visit to Neale Wade Academy. Picture: Steve Williams,

Princess Royal visit to Neale Wade Academy. Picture: Steve Williams, - Credit: Archant


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She had arrived just before noon and was met by Mr Wing and others including MP Steve Barclay and his wife Karen and Councillor Kit Owen, the mayor of March, and Councillor Ken Mayor, chairman of Fenland Council.

Year 4 students from Burrowmoor, accompanied by their head Anna Goffe, were invited to Neale-Wade and were also among the welcoming party.

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The Princess Royal also dropped into classes where Year 9 pupils were studying English, Year 10 students were studying maths and year 12 students were studying computer sciences.

Later she was escorted to the main hall to see the work displayed of various college groups including show jumping, kick boxing, the eco group and received a welcome too from the school’s musicians.

Princess Royal visit to Neale-Wade Academy.

Princess Royal visit to Neale-Wade Academy. - Credit: Archant

After unveiling a plaque to commemorate her visit she was presented with a posy by a student, Isobel Mawby.

HRH Princess Anne arrived in a two-car convoy led by four police motorbikes for what was billed a private visit to Neale-Wade Academy.

Wearing a red jacket, black skirt and knee-length black leather boots, she was scheduled to come by helicopter but what is considered to be a decision based on predicted freezing temperatures, she turned up instead in a 2014 dark blue bullet-proof Range Rover.

Officials standing guard outside the Wimblington Road school said that Princess Anne had arrived by train at Peterborough station and was brought to March in the Range Rover followed by an additional security team in an Audi Q7 4x4.

Princess Royal visit to Neale Wade Academy. Picture: Steve Williams,

Princess Royal visit to Neale Wade Academy. Picture: Steve Williams, - Credit: Archant

The convoy, that arrived at about 11.50am, was led by a team of four police motorcyclists.

The royal visit was organised as a way of recognising the hard work of teaching staff in pulling the secondary school back up from special measures three years ago.

The Princess Royal left her vehicle and was greeted at the front of the school by teaching staff and a selected number of army and air force cadets from the school who formed a two line guard of honour.

The academy has undergone dramatic improvements under the leadership of Mr Wing, and since joining its sponsor, the Active Learning Trust in 2013, Mr Wing’s leadership has also been commended by Ofsted.

Princess Royal visit to Neale Wade Academy. Picture: Steve Williams,

Princess Royal visit to Neale Wade Academy. Picture: Steve Williams, - Credit: Archant

“It is an honour to be able to welcome Her Royal Highness, Princess Anne, to Neale-Wade Academy,” said Mr Wing. “Our students are extremely excited to be meeting her, as are I and my staff.

“We could never have envisioned receiving a royal visit, and it is something of which we are very proud, I in particular as a former student here as well as the current principal.

“The academy has undergone a rapid transformation over the past couple of years, one that has not been without its challenges but that was well worth all the hard work involved, not only for this particular recognition from a member of the Royal family, but also for the exceptional results achieved by our students.”

Clive Bush, chief executive of the Active Learning Trust, said: “This is a great achievement for Neale-Wade and I am both proud of and pleased for Jason and his team.

Princess Royal visit to Neale-Wade Academy.

Princess Royal visit to Neale-Wade Academy. - Credit: Archant

“Having worked with Jason over the course of the last 18 months, I’ve seen first-hand the amount of hard work and determination that he has put into the Academy, and I am delighted that his efforts are being recognised with a Royal Visit.

“I am sure that Neale-Wade will continue to grow from strength-to-strength, maintaining its important role in the March community.”

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