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St Mary’s Alumna, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, Minister of State, returns to visit former school

St Mary’s Alumna, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, Minister of State, returns to visit former school

St Mary’s School was delighted to host a visit from a distinguished former student, who has risen to the highest echelons of business and politics. Baroness Neville-Rolfe DBE CMG has been a Minister of State in the Cabinet Office since November 2022; was made a Conservative Life Peer in the House of Lords in 2013; and has sat on the board of some of the UK’s best known businesses including ITV, PwC and Tesco PLC.

Returning to St Mary’s for the first time since she studied at its sixth form from 1967-1969, the Baroness and her husband, Sir Richard Packer, were keen to spend time with students, staff, governors, and patrons to find out how the school has changed and the plans for its 125th anniversary year, which begins in October 2023.

Following a reminiscent tour of St Mary’s facilities, including its chapel, new classrooms, refurbished dining hall and blooming gardens, the Baroness met four students, who were curious to learn how she got into politics; what a day in the life of the House of Lords entails; and what she studied at the school and university. The Baroness then enjoyed a lunch, prepared by the school’s chefs, with St Mary’s Head, Charlotte Avery; School Bursar, Faisal Babar; and other guests including Catholic philanthropist Sir Christian Sweeting; School Governor, Jo Mackenzie, and her partner, former Essex County Cricket and Ipswich CEO, Derek Bowden.

Commenting on Twitter, the Baroness, said:

“I was delighted to visit my old school and find it going from strength to strength. The girls talked about university, careers, and cricket (and) the austere old cloister has become a wonderful garden.”

Charlotte Avery, Head of St Mary’s, said:

“It was a pleasure to welcome Baroness Neville-Rolfe back to St Mary’s and show her and her husband how the school has evolved over the last few decades. At St Mary’s we are incredibly lucky to have an exceptionally engaged group of alumnae, who are in regular contact with the school and take every opportunity to come and speak to our current cohort of students and inspire them with exceptional examples of what they are achieving. Thank you to the Baroness for taking the time out of her busy schedule for a return visit.”

St Mary’s has recently launched a new alumnae communications platform, Pastonians Connect, which is run by Toucantech – which was founded by one of St Mary’s alumnae. The platform offers a place for alumnae and St Mary’s parent community to engage, share updates, stories, photographs and also learn about upcoming events. The school runs a calendar of special events for its alumnae from reunions and dinners to wine tastings and art exhibitions.

Forthcoming alumnae events include Festive Fizz – which are drinks held in December 2023 for all alumnae that left within the past five years; a pizza party in January 2024 for last year’s alumnae; several alumnae reunions; and a large drinks reception for the whole community with a guest speaker. Alumnae will also be invited to the school’s Sports Award Dinner in 2024, as well as other school events. 

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