The schools, and in turn the Trust, have been privileged to enjoy the benefit of continuous Royal Patronage, commencing in 1845 with HRH The Duke Of Cambridge, to the present day with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Prior to the closure of the schools in 1967, the Board was pleased to be informed “that Her Majesty will be happy to continue her association with the Foundation by granting her Patronage to The Royal Pinner School Foundation”.
This patronage remains current and steadfast today, symbolised by Her Majesty’s invitation for the Trust to take part in The Patron’s Lunch in The Mall in 2016, one of many nationwide events for her 90th birthday celebrations.
1845 – HRH The Duke of Cambridge – The first annual report and accounts for the period from the founding of the Schools in 1845 to 25th December 1846 records that “The Commercial Travellers’ School for Orphan and Necessitous Children” had been established at Wanstead, under the Patronage of HRH The Duke Of Cambridge.
The Schools and subsequently our Trust have been privileged and honoured to enjoy the benefit of continuous Royal Patronage. A brief note of each Patron is here with extracts taken from the Schools’ records:
1855 – HRH Prince Albert – opened the new buildings of the Schools at Pinner on 27th October 1855. The “Illustrated Times” dated 3rd November 1855 reports that “…the children, accompanied by a choir and band, sung the National Anthem in very good style. The young ladies who were provided with purses as offerings for the charity, passed up the central avenue and deposited them on a table before the Prince, who acknowledged each donation with a smile and a slight bow, which sent the fair donors back to their places with heightened colour and fluttering hearts. The young gentlemen then followed, till a goodly collection of gay purses were piled on the table.” The contents of the purses, provided by a number of the benefactors, together with “the day’s contributions from various sources, including £100 from Prince Albert…provided the munificent sum of upwards of £2,000“. It was also announced that the Prince had consented to become the Patron.
1863 – HRH The Prince Of Wales (later HM King Edward VII) – In 1897, to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of HM Queen Victoria, each boy and girl was presented with a special handkerchief. In addition, on Speech Day, Mr WH Lever (later Viscount Leverhulme) presented the Schools with a Willis Organ, which was erected in the Great Hall and subsequently reconstructed in 1905 in the new Elliott Hall (now part of the Harrow Arts Centre).
1901 – HM King Edward VII – The 1902 Speech Day was used as an opportunity for giving the children a special treat in celebration of the Coronation of HM King Edward VII. As well as the distribution of prizes, recitations, songs, musical drill by the girls and swimming exercises by the boys, there was also a children’s festival tea and a Punch & Judy show. The Excelsior Military Band performed between 4.00pm and 9.30pm and the proceedings concluded with a firework display. In view of this special occasion, each child was presented with a commemorative pocket handkerchief.
The Coronation Year 1902 Speech Day programme also records that specimens of the girls’ needlework were on display and that: “The Girls make and keep in repair ALL the clothing worn by themselves. 14,405 Garments have been mended during the year and, since the month of August, 140 dresses and 946 articles of Under-clothing have been made.“
1910 – HM King George V – In 1918, it was announced that His Majesty The King had been graciously pleased to command that in future the Pinner Schools should be known as “The Royal Commercial Travellers’ Schools”. By the end of 1918, the number of Old Scholars who had fallen in the war had reached 41. Amongst that number included The Rev Theodore Bayley Hardy, VC DSO MC, who attended the Schools from 1872 until 1879. In 1916, he had joined the forces as a Chaplain, on the western front, and was to become the most decorated non-combatant in the First World War. In July 1918 he was awarded the Victoria Cross, personally bestowed on him by His Majesty The King who visited the forces in France. He was honoured to be appointed a Chaplain to the King. In October, he was shot through the thigh and died one week later, three weeks before the end of the war.
1936 – HM King Edward VIII – In 1919 – when still HRH The Prince of Wales – acted as President of Appeal, and in 1920 presided over the Festival Dinner, the most successful Festival to date with a record collection of over £35,000. Became Patron in 1936.
1937 – HM King George VI – At the Golden Jubilee Dinner of the Old Mercurians in 1951, a message of congratulations was received from His Majesty The King, in reply to a message of loyalty sent on behalf of all members. HRH Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone, opened the Garden Party held at the Schools on 23rd July 1951.
1952 – HM Queen Elizabeth II – In celebration of the Coronation on 2nd June 1953, a holiday was declared and as part of the day’s activities, the children clustered around a number of new television sets (black and white) in order to watch the Coronation “live”. Prior to the closure of the Schools in 1967, the board was pleased to be informed “…that Her Majesty will be happy to continue her association with the Foundation by granting her Patronage to the Royal Pinner School Foundation when it comes into being on 1st August 1967”.
The Trust today functions as an educational trust, with the beneficiaries attending schools and colleges (day or boarding, state or independent) spread throughout the British Isles, but with the eligibility for assistance remaining the same as when the Schools at Pinner were open.
In 2016, the Trust participated in the Patron’s Lunch on The Mall on Sunday 12th June in celebration of the 90th Birthday of our Patron, Her Majesty The Queen. Book tokens, funded mainly by a charitable gift from The Patron’s Fund, were sent to all of our beneficiaries throughout the country to enable everyone to feel part of the national celebrations.who