Khadija Saye 1992-2017
31st August 2017

Khadija Saye, a former boarder at Rugby School and recipient of an Arnold Foundation bursary died with her mother Mary Mendy in the Grenfell Tower in London.

The internationally respected photographer was exhibiting her work entitled 'Dwelling: in this space we breathe' at the 57th Vennice Biennale at the time of her death.

Born in Britain in December 1992 to Gambian parents, Khadija (also known as Ya-Haddy Sisi or Kay) joined Rugby School on an Arnold Foundation bursary in 2008.

Her matron Marian Bennett recalled Khadjia being 'likeable and friendly, with a beaming smile'. "Khadija arrived at Stanley (boarding house) in the Advent term 2008. Every new girl I'm sure, leaving that which is very familiar, and coming to a completely different environment will feel nervous at the big change in her life.

"For Khadija, the change would have been different to the other new students coming to 6th form at Rugby.

"I couldn't say what was going through her mind as she settled into a new School environment, but one thing is that if she did feel any trepidation or fear she certainly didn't show it. " The house photograph of 2009 could almost be a superimposed photograph of the previous year of Khadija, albeit she was standing in a different place. She remained the same girl that arrived the year before.

"I cannot ever remember having to chivvy Khadija along, she had a fine stride on her and she used it with purpose, there was a determination about her, she was going places".

Marian added: "Rugby I i,agine would have been quite a culture shock for Khadija, she wasn't however phased, she had her own culture to celebrate.

"Her imagination and photography embraced the world she knew, sadly her ambitions will not come to fruition."

Former Headmaster Patrick Derham said Khadija had left 'an indelible mark on all of us'. Khadija is what makes the Arnold Foundation so special. Rachel Carr, the Chief Executive of IntoUniversity, told me before I met her for the first time that there was someone who would enrich the Rugby community and who we would never forget. How true that was.

"From the interview where we could see behind the shyness a wonderful human being who wanted to make her mark and to make a difference. She did.

"Her creativity was unleashed by her time in the photography department in particular ad her teachers spoke of her talent, her passion and her unbridled enthusiasm for the opportunities she was given. The journey she made was remarkable and to see her on the final day of term with a big beaming smile is an image I will never forget. And her mother too on that occasion who was so proud of her wonderful daughter. She had every right to be.

"For their lives to be so cruelly ended is hard to comprehend. Her work will surely be a lasting tribute both to her gifts, and to those at IntoUniversity, Rugby and Khadija's A Level Photography teacher Amy Farrelly, remembered as her "humbel and unassuming spirit who was making a difference in her own community.

"She was incredibly empathetic to others and she was one of my most talented students in her year. 

"She went on to study Photography at Surrey and recently had an exhibition in Venice. She was Truly an up and coming artist. She has produced a beautiful documentary series on Gambians living London. She was going to do great things and was beloved by all who knew her."

MP David Lammy, who also knew Khadija, described her as "a beautiful  young woman who had blossomed over the last few years."

The Arnold Foundation

Founded in 2003 the Arnold Foundation exists to transform the lives of boys and girls from some of the countries most deprived communities by providing them with a boarding education at Rugby School.


IntoUniversity provides local learning centres where young people are inspired to achieve. At each local centre IntoUniversity offers an innovative programme that supports young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to attain either a university place or another chosen aspiration.

BSA Khadjia Saye Photography Award

The BSA is establishing the Khadija Saye Photography Prize worth £250 a year to the best photograph portfolio by a boarding pupil. A portfolio of no less than three and no more than six original and unedited photographs can be submitted for entry (by October 31, 2017), with full details of each picture, where when and why they were taken, and technical information.

Entries can be submitted digitally to Aileen Kane, Director of Operations via or delivered by hard copy to Boarding Schools' Association, 4th Floor, 134 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1 9SA. Details of the first prize winner will be included in the Spring 2018 edition of the Boarding School magazine.

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