Treloar School students welcomed their royal patron the Countess of Wessex to their Holybourne campus to open their refurbished performance hall.

Music director Jocelyn Watkins said: “Being able to perform and take part in music is vital for all children and young people.

“It is a great tool for self-expression, for communication, for building confidence and self-esteem, and it is a universal language that everyone can enjoy.”

Maintaining Treloar’s performance schedule had become difficult as the hall could no longer cope with the increasingly complex needs of students.

But donors paid for new stage ramps, automatic doors, a cooling system for students unable to regulate their body temperature, a sound system suited to students with communication devices, and improved aesthetics.

The countess cut a ribbon to open the Florence Treloar Hall and took to the stage to join a bell ringing performance to accompany seven-year-old Zoe, who sang the hymn Abide With Me to mark Remembrance Day.

Zoe’s classmates used switch operated bells to ensure the performance could be enjoyed by all students and guests.

Ms Watkins, who chose Abide With Me, said: “Abide With Me is a beautiful hymn with lovely harmonies and a melancholic air to suit the theme of Remembrance, such an important part of our yearly calendar.

“The lyrics for Abide With Me are quite complicated and Zoe had to practise very hard to learn them, which she did at home and at school.

“Hymns, and similar types of music such as Christmas carols, are excellent for teaching as they are so well structured, often simple and


Treloar’s chief executive Ryan Campbell said: “We are honoured to have the long standing patronage of Her Royal Highness, whose kindness and support is so apparent when she visits our campus.

“Our students were delighted to perform for her and to sit alongside her on stage.

“It means so much to all of us to share such a special relationship with Her Royal Highness.

“She is such a wonderful advocate for the contribution our students and other disabled people can make.”