The Corinthian magazine provides a very welcome opportunity to reflect upon our fundraising activities and progress over recent months – and to thank again, publicly, all those whose support we have been so fortunate and grateful to receive.
I must start with some excellent and heart-warming news. We ended the last academic and financial year with a record sum raised for our Campaign for Stowe. The extraordinary and continuing generosity of Old Stoics, Parents and other friends of Stowe resulted in donations of just short of £3 million being received for projects that will help to secure the future of our School, and enhance the opportunities we can give to Stoics for many years to come. Those donations and pledges have come in all sizes and forms: from a few pounds up to much more substantial donations; from people who have been supporting Stowe for a number of years and those who have just begun to do so. It is my profound pleasure to thank once again, on behalf of the Trustees of Stowe School Foundation and Stowe House Preservation Trust too, all those members of our community who have seen a way to lend their support; we really are indebted and enormously grateful to you all.
The ‘headline’ project that will most immediately benefit from that generosity will be the new Design Technology and Engineering Centre, which will replace the workshops that date back nearly 70 years. This iconic new building, to be sited alongside the Music School, will provide design studios and classrooms that will truly transform the facilities we can provide for teaching and learning in that subject. We have just the final 10% of funding needed still to raise and all being well, construction work will start in the summer and we will be able to open the new DT&E building in 2021 – a wonderfully exciting prospect.
You will read, too, in these pages of the mission to complete the restoration of Stowe House. Since the foundation of Stowe House Preservation Trust in 1999, it has been a story of remarkable achievement and I really would urge any Old Stoic, who is able and hasn’t yet seen for themselves, to visit and explore the House and its ‘Interpretation Centre’ for themself. The Western Suite (comprising, principally, the State Dining Room) is now the most notable challenge remaining.
Our mind is turning now to the School’s Centenary in 2023, and later this year, as those celebrations approach, we will be launching an appeal with a very different focus indeed. Our mission will be to create a substantial fund that will enable us to provide financial assistance to deserving and talented children who will benefit from a Stowe education in years to come. I met recently a young Old Stoic called Liberty King, who left Stowe and Nugent House in 2013, having been the recipient of a life-changing bursary. It is perhaps easy to use the language of ‘transformation’ too freely, but in Liberty’s case and in her own words, this was entirely the case. From an estate in Milton Keynes, and “despite turning up at Stowe on my first day in my Mum’s bright green Ford Fiesta”, she truly thrived at Stowe, and took every opportunity that came to her. After two years in the Sixth Form, she won a place at Oxford and has now just started at Harvard. She talks incredibly powerfully of her determination that her circumstances should not “defeat me or define me” and of her dream that other children should have the same “life-changing opportunities regardless of their socio-economic background.” Later this year, we will be explaining the impact that bursary support can have on the lives of those like Liberty, how support for Stowe School Foundation can open up these opportunities – and how everyone at Stowe can benefit from the presence of young people like Liberty amongst us.
Finally, I am delighted to report that the Development office team has welcomed Charlie Clare to our team in the last few months. Charlie (an Old Stoic – Chatham 94) manages the Roxburgh Society and more broadly our mission to articulate and promote the nature and benefits of legacy-giving and the impact that this form of support can have. The Roxburgh Society exists for those who make a bequest to Stowe in their Wills – but we understand too that many of those who leave money to charities in their Wills wish to do so entirely quietly. If you would like to speak privately about how you might support Stowe in this way, we would be delighted and very grateful to hear from you: please do get in touch with Charlie personally, on firstname.lastname@example.org, by post at the School, or on 01280 818326.
More widely, if you would like to learn more about our mission to enhance the environment of Stowe and the opportunities we seek to provide for future Stoics, or indeed you might be interested in giving your support, I would be so pleased to hear from you. Please do get in touch.