On Saturday 10 November King Edward’s Witley proudly reaffirmed its deep-rooted links with the City of London by participating in the world-famous Lord Mayor’s Show, to celebrate the appointment of Alderman Peter Estlin - Governor and former King Edward’s Witley pupil and Head Boy - as the newly elected Lord Mayor of the City of London. 28 girls and boys from King Edward’s and 4 children from its partner school Barrow Hills, accompanied by their teachers, made the 55 minute train journey from Witley Station to Waterloo and then to the City.
There they joined in the extraordinary pageantry and drama associated with the 3-mile long procession of military, marching bands, floats and carriages, all proclaiming the new Lord Mayor’s theme for his year in office: “Shaping tomorrow’s city today” and championing the digital innovation that is shaping our future, our cities and our lives. The School’s float (and did you know the word “float” in carnivals originates from when the Lord Mayor’s Procession took place on the Thames?) took 9th spot out of a total of 149 in the procession, behind the Royal Marines, Royal Navy and Sea Cadets, and was the first full-size float to process past the new Lord Mayor at Mansion House in glorious sunshine. Broadcast live on the BBC and witnessed by some 400,000 people on the day, the crowd was thrilled with the School’s ingenious float, which featured a giant paper plane measuring 8 metres by 3 metres with the strapline “Tomorrow’s leaders take off from King Edward’s Witley”.
King Edward’s was the only Surrey based business represented in the colourful parade and one of only seven schools nationwide. The Show marked the climax of an 11-month period of planning, design and construction to create the eye-catching float, which reflected the School’s commitment to providing outstanding careers guidance and preparation for life to help each child reach their full potential. Pupils who took part in the procession wore a variety of hats to demonstrate the diverse range of careers pupils at the School can follow – from surgeons to chefs, engineers to teachers, captains to bishops, athletes to astronauts to Lord Mayor - and the extensive opportunities available at King Edward’s and Barrow Hills School.
King Edward’s Head Boy, Jacob Trevor from Chobham, said “Being part of the parade was one of the most unique experiences I have ever had. Seeing such huge crowds and waving to them was a new experience for me and will remain in my mind as a fond memory for a long time. The highlight, however, had to be the look of pure joy on the Lord Mayor’s face as we walked past. That alone made waking up so early worth it!”.
King Edward’s Witley enjoys a unique heritage binding it to the City of London. It was founded in 1553 by Royal Charter of King Edward VI as Bridewell Royal Hospital, housed within Bridewell Palace on the banks of the Thames and with an undertaking to house and teach a trade to the destitute children of London, providing many apprentices to the City. It later moved to Southwark and then relocated to Witley in 1867 as King Edward’s School where it is now an independent boarding and day school for some 400 girls and boys aged 11-18, many of whom come from the local Surrey area studying alongside others from all over the world who have chosen the School for its global and forward-thinking approach.
Commenting on his personal connection with the School, the new Lord Mayor of London said, “I have always been passionate about the role that education can play in shaping the future of young people and, in particular, encouraging a more inclusive society that offers equal access to an excellent education. King Edward’s Witley is a fine example of championing this belief and it was uplifting to see my former school support the Lord Mayor’s Show with such enthusiasm – and with such an eye-catching float! The School clearly demonstrated the benefits of a great education to spectators watching the world’s oldest and longest civic procession. It was fantastic to see some of tomorrow’s leaders take part.”
Following the Lord Mayor’s Show, the entire float complete with music and dry ice returned to King Edward’s Witley on Monday 12 November so all staff and pupils from both schools could enjoy the float and the giant paper plane at its centrepiece. The plane itself will be suspended from the ceiling in the School’s library as an installation where it will remain, serving as a constant reminder of King Edward’s Witley’s established links with the City of London as well as its role in guiding pupils toward a top-flight career.