Students said having the Duchess of Cambridge open an art room in their school was ‘unbelievable’.

Kate Middleton, Royal Patron of the Art Room- a national charity funded by stock brokers ICAP- officially launched the new ‘sanctuary’ at Northolt High today (February 14).

The Art Room works with 20 schools offering  art as therapy to children aged five to 16 who have difficulty in their lives and may be at risk of exclusion.

Pupils Atoria Mason, 13, and Tim Garner, 14, presented her royal highness with a bunch of posies to welcome her to the celebratory morning attended by Art Room and ICAP representatives, staff, governors and the ITN presenter who is also a patron- Jon Snow.

Catherine, wearing a chelsea blue L.K.Bennett dress, watched the children in action and chatted to them about their work.

Headteacher of the school in Eastcote Lane, Gloria Lowe, said: “The school is deeply honoured, thrilled, delighted and proud her royal highness is here. The art room is an essential part of the journey towards becoming Outstanding. It’s a calming, serene place and I believe that everyone needs an Art Room in their lives. It’s art as therapy, it’s about giving a child the space to reflect.”

In her speech, Mrs Lowe, who has been at the school for two years, addressed her students and said: “I have been in the world of education for 30 years but you are absolutely wonderful aren’t you.”

 

Founder and director of the Art Room, Juli Beattie, said that this project was made possible through successful partnership between their charity and the school.

She said: “Children become more confident, their self esteem grows, they are able to look people in the eyes and work in a healthy environment. The Duchess has been the most wonderful ambassador for us.”

Mr Snow- who has been patron of the Art Room for about six years, referred to Northolt High as ‘the best high school anywhere near London’ in his speech, which greatly pleased students, and said: “As long as you want to do something in life you will do it.”

Mr Snow told the Gazette that the Art Room will soon take youngsters from all over Ealing.

He said “The atmosphere in the art room can be emotional. There is a very high ratio of directors to students and it gives their self esteem a boost.”

Chief Executive of ICAP, Michael Spencer, said he was impressed by the new facility and that he is sure it will make a great contribution to the school.

Among those lined up to speak to the Duchess were students Altin Ademi, 12, Lucy Anderson, 16, Head Boy Peter Mwangi, 18, and Head Girl Niamh O’Brien, 16.

Peter said: “It’s a really big moment and a great experience for us all. I’m sure for the students who use the Art Room it’s helping them focus in lessons.”

There are currently five Art Rooms in Oxford, one in Islington, and this is the seventh in Northolt. The charity is set to open one in Edinburgh next and then somewhere in west London.

The cost is £105,000 for the first year and then it decreases.

Children have a routine where they start on the sofa area, have a snack and then move onto the workshop where literature is also used to encourage conversation

Participants have to have been referred- either self-referred, by the school, by social workers, parents or carers.

Northolt High currently has 16 students working in the Art Room with eight students per workshop.