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Camden school’s new science lab is monument to English Channel swim schoolgirls

PUBLISHED: 08:00 28 September 2014

Channel swimmers from left, Ella de Peretti, Madeleine Jenkins, Felicity Challinor, Millie Elson, Minnie Fawcett-Tang, Lily Ouldcott, with guest of honour Dame Athene Donald, professor of experimental physics at the University of Cambridge. Picture: Polly Hancock

Channel swimmers from left, Ella de Peretti, Madeleine Jenkins, Felicity Challinor, Millie Elson, Minnie Fawcett-Tang, Lily Ouldcott, with guest of honour Dame Athene Donald, professor of experimental physics at the University of Cambridge. Picture: Polly Hancock

Archant

Intrepid schoolgirls who swam the English Channel to raise money for a Camden school have cut the ribbon on a new science laboratory funded by their daring feat.

Six 13 and 14-year-olds in Year 8 braved metre-high waves and freezing cold waters to complete the 21-mile challenge as a relay team in September 2013 to raise money for new facilities at Camden School for Girls in Camden Town.

A year on, the team came together again to unveil The Channel Swim Laboratory to proud parents, teachers and pupils on Thursday (September 25).

One of the swimmers, Madeleine Jenkins, 14, said: “The lab is an embodiment of all the hard work we put in.

“It’s great to be able to see our efforts have done something good for the school.”

The teenagers, known as 6GirlsNoBuoys, became the youngest all-girl relay team to cross the Channel after they made the journey in 13 hours and six minutes by rotating on hourly shifts.

The extraordinary feat raised £25,000 for the new laboratory at the Sandall Road school, where four of the swimmers are pupils now in Year 10 - Lily Ouldcott, Ella de Peretti, Millie Elson and Minnie Fawcett-Tang.

Their friends Madeleine and Felicity Challinor, who do not attend the school, also joined them on the challenge.

Extra funds raised by the Camden School Community Association and charity The Armourers and Brasiers’ Gauntlet Trust ensured the old 1960s laboratory could be transformed into a modern workspace in just 12 months.

Dame Athene Donald, professor of experimental physics at the University of Cambridge, paid a visit to her old school to officially open the new classroom.

She said: “When I was in Year 8, I couldn’t swim a length, so I think it shows great courage and determination.”

The evening was rounded off with a demonstration of particle acceleration by A-level physics students, which would have been nearly impossible to conduct before the renovations.

The school has recently received a large grant from Camden Council to overhaul its other laboratories.

Headteacher Elizabeth Kitcatt said: “What I think the refurbishment will do is inspire the students.

“It symbolises determination, resilience, and a capacity to persevere and not give up in the face of adversity. There is lots and lots to celebrate.”


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