Children, staff and parents at Banstead Prep School were thrilled to welcome Paralympian and World Champion Lauren Steadman this week for the official unveiling of their new Sports Pavilion. The special opening celebrations, which also brought together parents, friends and the Mayor of Reigate and Banstead, saw the children test out their new facilities and hear from Lauren about her triumphs at the Rio Paralympics.
As part of the day’s events, Lauren met with children from across the school and explained her background, being born with a disability but with a constant determination to achieve her goals. She passed around her silver Paralympic medal, achieved in the triathlon in 2016, much to the excitement of the children. They had lots of questions for her, keen to hear about everything from the start of her interest in sport – as a competitive swimmer at school – to taking on new challenges like performing each week on Strictly Come Dancing.
Her stories illustrated many important lessons for the children. She told them that whatever you are doing, you never know who may be watching, so always try your very best – as she did when spotted in Year 6 by a talent scout who predicted she would swim for her country one day.
She also encouraged the children to find something they love doing by trying new opportunities and experiences. This is something that staff at Banstead Prep School are keen to promote as part of an Education with Character – an education that inspires, excites and challenges children of all ages.
The children found her friendly and really easy to talk to, and happy to answer their questions. “She talked to us like we were old friends” said Olivia (Swimming Captain) “it’s really amazing how much she has achieved at such a young age; her medal was so heavy!” Netball Captain Millie said “I asked her how much training she does and she said 27-30 hours a week. She has a really positive attitude; she was really positive about everything.”
Despite forecast thunderstorms forcing the afternoon’s sporting activities inside, it stayed dry for the official ribbon cutting and raising the school flag. The sports captains were the first children to look inside the new pavilion building, taking Lauren on a tour of the brand new facilities, which already include a full sized hockey astroturf and grass pitches, a full sized sports hall and indoor swimming pool. Hockey Captain Emilie said “The pavilion is fantastic – there’s so much more space for us to get changed and for all our kit.”
Lauren said of the visit: “It was lovely to see how excited the children were – that’s what’s it’s all about.”
The parents who attended expressed how pleased they were to see the continued investment in the school. Sofie, whose son Jack is Cricket Captain said: “After a very motivational talk for the children, it was brilliant to see the new facilities which are going to create even more opportunities for the children in sport. It’ll be great for parents to have access to the new pavilion at sports matches too.”
Dr Rose Gerrard, whose children are in Year 1 said the event was incredible: “It’s so inspirational for the children to meet someone like Lauren and see that silver medal.”
Banstead Prep School Headteacher Vicky Ellis said of the celebrations: “Sport is a huge part of Banstead Prep school life. We are delighted to be able to further enhance our excellent sports facilities for the future by investing in the Sports Pavilion. I can’t wait to finally see it in use by our children and visiting teams.” Head of Sport Gavin Jones added: “The new sports pavilion will be fantastic for Banstead Prep, cementing the brilliant sporting opportunities we already offer.”