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It's hockey in high heels for Kate as Duchess goes back to prep school she adored



By Rebecca English, Royal Correspondent

It's not quite the requisite footwear for a game of hockey.

But it would take more than a pair of high-heeled boots to come between this particular former captain and the Astroturf.

The Duchess of Cambridge seemed delighted to be back on the pitch at her old prep school, St Andrew's, yesterday - even if she had forgotten her kit.

Kate, 30, who 'adored' her time at her prep school in Pangbourne, Berkshire, confessed to the moniker when she was chatting to a group of young children in the pre-Prep part of the £16,950-a-year school.

During the visit, appropriately on St Andrew's Day, the annual celebration of the patron saint of Scotland, Kate officially opened a new Astroturf hockey pitch.

She also revealed that as a pupil she was nicknamed Squeak - just like the school's pet guinea pig.

She asked them if they kept pets at school and told how when she was at St Andrews, the school had two guinea pigs. 'There was one called Pip and one called Squeak, so my sister was called Pip and I was Squeak,‘ she said.

In the short speech she gave, the Duchess described her time at St Andrew's as some of the 'happiest years of my life.'‪

She said: 'It is such a treat l to be back here at St Andrew’s. I absolutely loved my time here; they were some of my happiest years, which makes it so incredibly special to be here today.

In fact, I enjoyed it so much that when I had to leave, I told my mother that I was going to come back to be a teacher.  While that didn’t quite happen, I was thrilled to have been asked back today on St. Andrew's Day.‬

'It was while I was here at school that I realised my love of sport. Sport has been a huge part of my life, and I feel incredibly grateful for the opportunities I had to get outside and play in such wonderful open spaces - though sadly there was nothing quite as glamorous as this in my time!

'I hope that you all enjoy playing sport here as much as I used to, and make the most of these incredible facilities.'

Kate was something of a star pupil at the exclusive establishment, just a short drive from her home in Bucklebury, where she won awards for both sport and music.

The Duchess met teachers and students privately over lunch before visiting the Pre-Prep school for Under-5s.

She then formally opened a new Astroturf playing field by unveiling a plaque before meeting members of the school’s current hockey team.

Kate toured the school privately before observing some the School’s ‘Progressive Games’, which are traditional games played indoors by the school’s teachers and students on St. Andrew’s Day.

Progressive games is a tradition stretching back since St Andrew’s School first opened. On St. Andrew’s Day, the staff set up a number of short, five minute games, and small groups of mixed-aged children progress around the games earning scores as they go.  A winning team is declared at the end of the day.

The Mail has uncovered photographs of the Duchess during her time at the school, including a joyful picture of her leaping into the air with delight on the hockey pitch.

At the time Kate was aged 13 and celebrating an historic hockey victory with her school team.
Others show her playing rounders, netball and playing the flute.

According to one fellow pupil, Kate thrived in the school’s close-knit, family atmosphere.

She quickly became one of its most celebrated pupils, excelling at almost every form of sport including tennis, hockey, swimming, netball and rounders.

But she also threw herself into other aspects of school life, taking part in its public speaking competitions, pantomimes and plays. She enjoyed drama workshops during her summer holidays, learned ballet and tap and was a proficient flautist and singer.

Just a quick flick through one of the school's year books published in June 1995, her final year, demonstrates how Kate's star shone.

Page after page, her list of achievements grows longer. As well as her success with the Under 12/13 hockey team, she played goal defence for the Under 13 Netball team during one of its most successful ever seasons.

There was also the Under 12/13 rounders team for which Kate - listed under her full name Catherine Middleton - was named the highest scorer of the season.

She was also a keen swimmer and athlete. On sports day she won the Under 12/13 200m in 31.24 seconds and set records in both the long jump and high jump of 4.14metres and 1.39 metres respectively.

On prize giving day, her prowess was rewarded with the Calvert Cup for rounders and the Leslie Cup for outstanding overall sporting achievement for a girl.

Musically, Kate also proved to be extremely gifted - a talent she has so far managed to hide from public view.

She was a member of St Andrew's inaugural Chamber Orchestra and of the senior flute group - amusingly known as the Tootie-Flooties - along with her younger sister, Pippa. Friends say she was also deputy head chorister in the chapel choir and was once commended in a BBC carol competition.

Shortly before she left the school, she also passed her Associated Board Grade 111 flute examination with merit and also her Grade 1V and V singing.

One contemporary remembers Kate extremely fondly.

'She was a really lovely, warm girl who didn't have a bad bone in her body. I couldn't speak of her more highly,' they said.

'In some ways she was rather quiet and unassuming but she excelled on the sports field and was definitely one of our golden girls.

'While she may not have been one of the most outgoing pupils there, she was always cheerful, happy and surrounded by friends.

'We all used to spend lunchtimes climbing trees, playing tennis and roller-skating. It was quite an idyllic childhood really.'

The former classmate was also struck by the closeness of Kate's relationship with her parents, Michael and Carole, and siblings Pippa and James, saying: 'They were a lovely family, very tight and supportive.

'At the time they were living in quite an ordinary three-bedroomed house in the village of Bradfield Southend. Carole's business selling children's party goods had taken off enough for them to send her kids to private schools but their house was still very humble. Full of your typical family clutter.

'Carole was extremely supportive of all her children. She and Michael used to come to all Kate's sports matches to cheer her on and Carole always took part in the mother/daughter rounders match on sports day.'

Although they have not seen Kate for many years, her former classmate believes she will prove to be a 'breath of fresh air' for the Royal Family.

'It's rather surreal knowing that she will be Queen one day, but by all accounts she is as refreshingly normal as always,’ said one.

'It's still hard to imagine her becoming Queen one day, but I can tell you one thing, the royals are lucky to have her.'


dailymail

By: manager Date Added: 2012-12-03 Comment: 0 Views :2802

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