Prince Philip: Former Apsley Grammar School students remember the day the Duke of Edinburgh visited Hemel Hempstead

His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, visited the school in 1959

Monday, 12th April 2021, 7:25 pm

The news of the Duke of Edinburgh's death led to a trip down memory lane for some former Hemel Hempstead students as they recalled the day he visited their school.

On Friday, April 9, Buckingham Palace announced the death of the Duke of Edinburgh, who died peacefully at Windsor Castle.

The news prompted some students who attended Apsley Grammar School - now Longdean school - in October 1959, to recall memories of the day Prince Philip visited their school to talk about the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme.

Jane Cutler nee Brown said: "As far as I remember the Duke was visiting schools in the area who were taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme. I guess it was to encourage us and our teachers. It has been a real memory lane moment for us.

"I can clearly remember that some of you took a childcare element and that Adeyfield had a real baby and we just had a doll!

"I can remember doing a study on first aid with Mr Parslow and a food and nutrition study. I remember going to Hatfield House on my bike, for the expedition."

A cutting of the story that featured in The Gazette in 1959

Valerie Gurney nee Newman said: "Yes I remember him coming to Apsley. I was in the hall doing child care.

"We had one of my dolls in a carry cot. He was with Mr Wrigley and Mrs Atherton and made some comment about it not being a real baby... It’s good to think we have met him.

"I just thought I’d tell you about the doll. It was my Christmas present the year Prince Charles was born, or the year after.

"Womans Weekly sold it as Prince Charles (they also did a Princess Anne when she was born) and Mum and Dad bought it for me and Mum knitted an outfit for him that was also in Womans Weekly.

A cutting from The Gazette

"I was so thrilled to have this Prince Charles doll. I think it’s in the loft somewhere. Needless to say I did not tell the Duke that he was manhandling his son when he twisted his neck."

Penny Soulsby said: "I remember the day Prince Philip visited our school. I was showing my certificates for my speech and drama exams on the table.

"As he saw these, he looked at me and said, “Oh, how now brown cow?” I just smiled politely! We had some press photos taken for the Hemel Gazette."

Ian Garbutt said: "I do remember that day. I had not completed my Silver (I don't remember what field it was) so I was relegated to the 'stand and wave' group. I recall being ticked off at myself. Also I vaguely recall we did a choir/music thing, perhaps?

"I did finish both Silver and Gold DofE while I was in my first year at Gordonstoun, '60-'61. I am grateful for that program, which guided me into the Mountain Rescue Service, and later becoming a mountain rescue leadership trainer alongside, another Apsley student and college friend.

"I used those skills to lead a local search/rescue team in Oregon as recently as 1993. Since I spent two 6th form years - Sept '60 to July'62 - at Gordonstoun I was, of course, surrounded by the ethos and influences of Prince Philip, so who he was is deeply embedded in me."

Jeanette Merino added: "Funnily enough Joan was talking about it the other day, apparently he had been told we were learning Italian in the lunch hour, and asked us if we listened to some Italian programme or other on the radio at 9.30pm, to which I apparently replied “Oh no sir, we would be in bed by then”."

Berkhamsted School recalled their memories of Prince Philip - who visited the school in 2004 - with a tribute posted on Twitter (@BerkhamstedKJSC), which said: "As a school long associated with Outdoor Education and the DofE award, it's with great sadness we hear about the passing of Prince Philip.Our sincere condolences to our Patron The Queen and the Royal Family. HRH will continue to inspire the lives of countless Berkhamsted pupils. He visited #Berkhamsted to open the Knox Johnston Sports Centre in 2004."

Berkhamsted Town Council also paid tribute to His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

Tony Noakes, Town Clerk, Berkhamsted Town Council, said: "The Councillors, officers and people of Berkhamsted Town Council are deeply saddened at the news of the death of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Our thoughts are with Her Majesty and members of the Royal Family at this time.

"As a mark of respect, we will be flying flags at half mast.

"Messages of Condolence can be made online via the Lord-Lieutenant of Hertfordshire, Her Majesty's personal representative in the County, at Hertfordshire's Book of Remembrance for HRH The Duke of Edinburgh.

"A Book of Condolence will be opened from Tuesday 13 April, at the Civic Centre in Berkhamsted. This will be open Tuesday to Friday, 10am to 2pm."