Princess Anne visits Camden Working Men’s College for prizegiving

14:15 30 January 2013

Princess Anne presents The Princess Royal

Princess Anne presents The Princess Royal's Medal to Saphire Malaise. Picture: Nigel Sutton

© Nigel Sutton email

Princess Anne followed in her grandfather’s footsteps – by praising a Camden college as a pioneering example of adult education for others to follow.

The Working Men’s College (WMC) welcomed the Princess Royal yesterday (Tuesday, January 29) to celebrate almost 160 years providing adult education in the borough.

The college is one of the oldest of its kind in Europe and has reinvented itself from an institute providing access for the working man to the liberal arts, to teaching English to immigrant communities.

To mark its 160th anniversary, the college, which has 12,000 students, unveiled the new Princess Royal’s Medal for overcoming barriers, which was presented to Sapphire Malaise by Princess Anne.

Speaking to an audience of staff, students and local dignitaries in the Maurice Hall, she praised the college for providing courses for everyone from teenagers to the college’s oldest student, who is 95.

Princess Anne, dressed in a lime green suit with a turquoise neckerchief, said: “It sets an example for others and that’s really important.

“You (the college) have that desire to keep giving information and knowledge and that’s really important and sets a tone for others who come after you.”

She added: “My Oxford English Dictionary, admittedly a slightly earlier edition, defines education as training for life. It does not within make any reference to academic qualifications. It’s about helping people live their lives the way they want to.”

She presented the medal to former painter and decorator Ms Malaise, a 41-year-old mother-of-two from Islington who overcame depression to take up courses in Spanish and English at the college.

The Royal Family’s connections to the centre stretch back more than 100 years.

Princess Anne’s great-grandfather King George V layed the first brick of the new building in Crowndale Road, Camden Town, in 1902 and her grandfather King George VI visited the college in 1922 to present the Duke of York’s Medal, the position he then held.

The medal, presented to the best student of the year, was given to Bangladeshi-born Rehana Parvin, 27, who, with the help of the college and her seven-year-old son, learned how to speak English this year.

She said: “Before I felt nervous, lonely and shy. Now I am confident because I have many friends and I spoke to the Princess. I am a little bit more experienced and improving my English.”

The Lowes Dickinson Medal was awarded to art student Nikki Whyte, who has won a place at London College of Fashion after taking a course at the WMC.

Her Royal Highness was welcomed by principal Satnam Gill, Professor Tom Schuller, chairman of the governing board of the college, David Hughes, chief executive of the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education, and Mayor of Camden, Cllr Heather Johnson.

Princess Anne commented on the college’s eight-year building project before seating herself in the wooden-panelled hall with an espresso to listen to speeches.

Prof Schuller said: “What we try to do and hope we succeed in, is providing a forum where people do the normal thing of talking to each other, learning from each other, encouraging and making each other believe what is possible.”

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