Girls inspired by gold-plated English Rose

Eastbourne College | 11 Dec 2018 | ISC Icon
‘You can do whatever you put your mind to’ was the prevailing message this week, as England and 2018 Commonwealth Games gold winning netballer, Natalie Hawthornthwaite, headed to Eastbourne to inspire the next generation.
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Natalie spent the day with St Andrew’s Prep and Eastbourne College pupils speaking about the dedication and hard work required to be part of a successful team, before answering questions from the girls, and then putting them through their paces in a series of masterclasses. The visit, organised by Eastbourne College’s Director of Netball, ex-England international and super league coach, Lisa Price, marked a fitting end to the College’s ‘Year of the Girl’ activities with a hopeful message attached - that, with the right support, UK women’s sport can be world-beating.

To achieve gold at the Commonwealth Games is tantamount to winning an Olympic gold medal and is the highest accolade the sport currently offers. Natalie, playing in the position of wing attack, was on court when the ‘England Roses’ team defeated tournament favourites Australia in the dying seconds of the final to claim gold. The iconic photograph of the elated England team, and the message it conveyed, echoed around the globe, placing UK Netball on the proverbial sporting map, just two years after the team had managed to secure £3 million worth of elite Sport England funding.

Recently named Team of the Year at the Sports Journalists’ Association British Sports Awards 2018, the Sunday Times Sports Women of the Year Awards and the BT Sport Action Woman Awards, the BBC TV Sports Personality of the Year 2018 announced that the ‘Vitality Roses’ (their new name, having secured a three year sponsorship deal from Vitality insurance) has been shortlisted for the prestigious Team of the Year 2018 award and the Greatest Sporting Moment of 2018 award.

Headmaster of Eastbourne College, Tom Lawson, thanked Natalie for her time and insight into the world of elite UK netball, noting that, ‘So many girls have been inspired today by her presence and the message of empowerment that she brings.’

Impressed by Natalie’s positive effect on the pupils, he implored,‘I do hope the positive vibes emanating from Team England, England Netball and the Vitality Roses, can be matched by similar vibes from Sport England, to continue funding the success story beyond 2019.’

Gareth Jones, St Andrew’s Prep Headmaster concurred and added,‘Opportunities to hear about the benefits of team sport first-hand from a sportswoman at the very pinnacle of her game don’t come along very often. Most of us are aware of the psychological and social benefits but St Andrew’s Prep also believes the life skills gained including respect, resilience, discipline, problem-solving and humility are equally as important, as well as the sheer fun and enjoyment that sport offers.’

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About Eastbourne College

Eastbourne College is fortunate to be stunningly situated on the edge of Eastbourne, yards from the sea and the glorious South Downs National Park. Students can flourish in this wonderful setting with access to a safe town centre that allows them to become more independent but without the concerns or restrictions of isolated rural or urban schools. With around 620 pupils in the school, it is very much a community rather than an institution, where every child is known extremely well. Boys and girls, brothers and sisters, day pupils and boarders are totally involved in a school that believes wholeheartedly in co-education and a flexible boarding offer. Recently, the College's learning environment has been enhanced enormously by the completion of a £33 million redevelopment called Project 150 (see below for more detail).

The headmaster, Tom Lawson, believes that the most important aim is to produce good people who other people want to be with. Furthermore, he is a proponent of the blue health that the school's location offers, adopting a healthy learning for the future approach. Since he began his headship, he has introduced a new boarding lodge which caters for day pupils with occasional boarding needs, an annual biathlon / steeplechase which encompasses the South Downs National Park, and has furthered the work of the Eastbourne Schools Partnership, a community outreach project that accounts for 14,000 local school-children in the maintained sector. In July 2018, Mr Lawson and Head of Partnerships, Linda Salway, received the Education Business Awards Community Award, on behalf of Eastbourne College, for outstanding community partnering work.

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