Haringey school has fond memories of twice welcoming the Queen

20:22 02 June 2012

The Queen reopened St Aidan

The Queen reopened St Aidan's following a fire in 1997.


It is not every day one finds a queen wandering down the hallways of a school, so one would be forgiven for being a little jealous of the school which welcomed Her Majesty twice.

Queen Elizabeth first visited St Aidan’s VC Primary School in Stroud Green to officially open it in 1972 and then again in 1998 – this time to reopen the school.

For former nursery nurse Gisela Soinne, the 1998 visit was one not to be forgotten – she still has the mug which marked the ocassion, on February 25 that year.

It came after a difficult year for the school, which had been destroyed by fire less than 12 months earlier.

All the children – apart from the nursery class, whose building had escaped damage – had been moved to the newly-opened Weston Park School in Crouch End while it was refurbished.

On their return, the pupils wanted to do something a little bit special.

Ms Soinne, who had worked at the school since 1975, said: “The Queen had opened the school originally, so they wrote to Her Majesty and asked if she would return to reopen it.

“They sent her some pictures, and she said yes.”

But having a queen visit does not just involve the day.

“The whole school was inspected from the bottom to the top with sniffer dogs, just to make sure there was nothing hidden,” remembered Ms Soinne, and then there is the protocol of addressing the Queen.

Ms Soinne, of Crouch Hall Road, said: “We were told, if Her Majesty speaks to us at first we must answer ‘Your Majesty’. We were told you did not have to curtsey though, but I did. I just felt it was right to do.”

But all the preparations were worth it.

Queen Elizabeth visited all the new classrooms, watched a performance in the hall and unveiled a stone which comemorated the ocassion.

And she didn’t just meet the children and teachers.

The Queen also spent time with the crowds who had assembled outside the school gates to get a glimpse of – arguably – the most famous woman in the world.

“It was all very exciting,” Ms Soinne said with a smile.

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