Farnborough Hill was delighted to welcome back sporting heroine and Old Girl, Alex Danson, to open the new astro pitch named in her honour. Alex is a long-standing and much honoured member of the Team GB hockey squad.
Farnborough Hill has an enviable reputation for sport. We want the girls to enjoy their sport, whether they are elite sportswomen competing at national level or girls having fun, and we aim to promote a lifelong enjoyment of sport. A floodlit astro-turf hockey pitch was much needed given the changes in the modern game; in fact girls in the competitive teams have been bussed to a local pitch for practice in recent years. Mrs Buckle has been keen to ensure that the plans for the pitch enabled it to blend in with its environment. To this end the pitch, fencing and lighting is all green and the pitch blends into the beautiful parkland superbly. We have high hopes that the new pitch will enable us to produce another player of Alex Danson’s calibre!
There was a real air of excitement and anticipation as the whole school, together with governors and parents, assembled on the new hockey pitch. The ceremony began with a blessing conducted by Rev Fr. Tony Sultana, the school’s parish priest, after which Alex officially opened the pitch by cutting the ribbons. She then took to the pitch to take part in an exhibition penalty shoot-out followed by a staff versus students match.
Given her status as a top hockey player, it was an obvious decision to name the pitch after Alex. She was still at school in 2001 when she made her international debut in the GB women’s hockey squad and was runner up for the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year. Since leaving the Sixth Form in 2003 we have followed her career with great interest and pride including such highlights as being named in the 2011 FIH’s World All Stars Team; winning a bronze medal in the 2012 London Olympics and most recently winning a gold medal and player of the tournament at the 2015 EuroHockey Nations Championships. We are also very proud of Alex’s important role as a mentor for the Youth Sports Trust. We know from her attendance as a Guest of Honour at Prize Giving in 2011 that she is an inspirational speaker and her words during the ceremony were again motivating and impressive.
Alex, who was joined by her parents, was delighted to have the pitch named after her. She said ‘It’s been absolutely incredible to come back here today and I’ve had a wonderful time. This pitch was part of my dream when I was here - the girls can now create their dream on an astro like this. Without my start here at Farnborough Hill I wouldn’t have been so successful. I owe it all to my school.’