June 2019: The 691st Lord Mayor of the City of London, Alderman Peter Estlin, long-standing Governor, former bursary pupil and Head Boy at King Edward’s Witley, hosted a ‘Bridewell Banquet’ on Friday 24th May in the presence of HRH The Duchess of Gloucester GCVO, President of Bridewell Royal Hospital, King Edward’s Witley’s charitable parent foundation. The Foundation supports disadvantaged children who, through no fault of their own, cannot thrive educationally in their home situation and are best supported in a boarding environment.
Alderman Peter Estlin is one of King Edward’s success stories, who benefited from the financial, educational and pastoral provision at the School. As Lord Mayor of the City of London, he wanted to give back, opening Mansion House to host a charity evening in aid of Bridewell Royal Hospital “… contributing another piece of the funding jigsaw as we seek to meet the challenge to finance more disadvantaged children”.
The event was attended by Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Gloucester GCVO and over 200 guests. These included civic dignitaries, livery companies, governors and former governors, Mr John Attwater (King Edward’s Headmaster for the last 10 years) and Mrs Joanna Wright (the new incoming Head), staff, alumni, current pupils and parents who gathered to pay tribute to the School’s rich history and compassionate roots.
At the dinner guests heard Rudo Dube, an Old Witleian (former bursary pupil 2009-2016), now at Newcastle University. Rudo delivered a moving account of how being a part of the King Edward’s family had given her the much-needed security and comfort during the hard times of father’s mental illness. “I would like to thank King Edward’s Witley, the Bridewell Foundation and everyone else who helped me, for all the support and encouragement I received throughout my seven years at the School. Without you all I’m not sure I would be in the position I am now, at a wonderful university doing something I’m genuinely passionate about with an exciting future ahead of me.”
Jonty Hearnden, celebrated English antiques expert and television presenter compered a live auction and awarded prizes from the silent auction and raffle - which in addition to pledge cards, contributed to raising just over £60,000 during the evening.
Headmaster Mr John Attwater reflected on the evening’s success, “It was wonderful to see such breadth of support for the work of our Foundation to help children whose lives mean they need a secure boarding experience. We are so grateful to the Lord Mayor for his generous hospitality and to everybody: our pupil musicians and raffle organisers, staff, auction donors, guests and of course Her Royal Highness, who made it such a special and memorable evening.”