Her Royal Highness Princess Anne visited Stonyhurst College this week in her capacity as patron of the Woodland Trust’s First World War Centenary Woods Project.
The Princess Royal planted a tree at the Hurst Green college on Wednesday alongside the 301 oak saplings planted by the Stonyhurst College Combined Cadet Force.
Each tree represents a serviceman who died in the First World War and other conflicts. A total of 283 of those commemorated had attended Stonyhurst College, and 18 were from the nearby village of Hurst Green.
The Woodland Trust’s Centenary Woods Project has overseen the planting of three million trees across the UK this year to commemorate the fallen.
The Princess Royal was met by the Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Lancashire, Colonel Alan Jolley, and the Contingent Commander of Stonyhurst Combined Cadet Force, Lt. Col. Andrew Barber, escorted her to the new tree plantation, where she chatted to cadets.
She was then given a tour of the historic college by the headmaster Andrew Johnson, and was shown two Victoria Cross medals which had been awarded to former Stonyhurst pupils in the First World War.
One of these was the first VC of the conflict, awarded to Lieutenant Maurice Dease for his bravery in the opening engagement of 1914 at the Battle of Mons.
The Princess Royal met pupils and staff from Stonyhurst, including the head boy and girl, Victor Keunen and Olivia Haworth.
Also in attendance were the chairman of governors John Cowdall, the Woodland Trust’s director of fundraising, Karl Mitchell, the chief constable of Lancashire Police, Steve Finnigan, the High Sheriff of Lancashire, Dr Barry Johnson, the Ribble Valley Mayor and Mayoress Coun. Michael and Mrs Janette Ranson and Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans.
At a reception in the top refectory, which is lined with the portraits of Stonyhurst’s seven VCs, The Princess Royal was presented with a painting of Stonyhurst College.
In her address she said: “Stonyhurst is the perfect place for this commemorative tree planting, with its long history and understanding of service, and I am pleased it is supporting the Woodland Trust.”
Headmaster Andrew Johnson said: “It has been a tremendous day for Stonyhurst, the CCF and the Woodland Trust. We were delighted to be able to welcome the Princess Royal to the college. The staff, cadets and pupils very much enjoyed meeting her.”