Royal couple enjoy visit to Suffolk

A FEE-PAYING school's new-look theatre was officially opened by the Earl of Wessex yesterday as he visited Suffolk with his wife, the Countess of Wessex.

By David Green

A FEE-PAYING school's new-look theatre was officially opened by the Earl of Wessex yesterday as he visited Suffolk with his wife, the Countess of Wessex.

The Royal couple spent more than an hour at Framlingham College where they chatted to staff and pupils and were introduced to local government dignitaries.

They then took their seats in the school's new Headmaster Porter Theatre, created from the shell of the former Athlone Hall, which was itself opened by a member of the Royal family, Princess Alice of Athlone, in 1964.


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About £2 million has been spent on the theatre, equipping it with state-of-the-art facilities, with the help of a significant legacy from the estate of former headmaster, Stanley Porter.

It was the vision of Mr Porter, head of the school from 1955 until 1971, which led to the creation of the original theatre.

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The Royal couple watched an energetic and well choreographed scene from the school's forthcoming production of the musical, Les Miserables, before the Earl unveiled a plaque to mark the theatre's opening.

“I hope this turns into a really valued space for the whole community,” he said after congratulating the students on their performance and warning of the vocal difficulties involved in singing the songs of Les Miserables.

Earlier, the Earl spoke to staff and students involved in the school's Combined Cadet Force and Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, being treated to a demonstration of how to give First Aid to a casualty with a shark bite.

The Countess of Wessex, wearing a smart beige and grey coat and black boots, attended a short concert in the school's chapel, involving pupils from Brandeston Hall, the junior school, as well as students from the senior school.

The singers included Laura Wright, 16, who combines her studies at Framlingham College with being a member of the classical girl band All Angels.

Laura, who lives locally, presented the Royal visitor with a copy of the group's new CD. The band are reputed to have signed a three-record deal worth £1 million.

Framlingham College has 482 students while a further 297 pupils are educated at Brandeston Hall.

david.green@eadt.co.uk

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