GB hockey star launches new astroturf at Longridge school

Pupils at Longridge were joined on Monday by Great Britain hockey player and 2016 Olympic gold medallist Helen Richardson-Walsh, MBE.

Wednesday, 8th November 2017, 8:14 am
Updated Monday, 11th December 2017, 10:45 pm

Richardson-Walsh coached children aged between 8 and 18 as part of her visit to open the school’s new astro turf pitch.

Pupils enjoyed the coaching sessions and developed their hockey skills whilst working alongside a player who has almost 300 caps for Team GB.

The young players also enjoyed seeing some of Richardson-Walsh’s own hockey skills when she joined in one of the games with pupils and coaches from Longridge at the end of the morning.

The star guest also led an inspiring assembly where she shared some of her reflections about how children can approach their health and sport. She explained that she started playing hockey when she was seven years old and yet set her sights on Olympic gold when she attended the Sydney Games in 2000.

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She encouraged everyone to hold high aspirations, to have courage and to ‘be yourself’, saying: “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss it, you may come away with a star or two.”

She explained some of the ups and downs of her professional career and said that she was enjoying coaching and working with children as well as commentating having stepped down from international competition.

She answered questions from pupils about her training, her favourite goal (the one in final of the 2016 Olympics) and how she coped with both losing and winning.

The formal opening of the astro turf took place with governors, former pupils, staff as well as guests from other schools. Headmaster, Mr Jonathan Lee, paid tribute to the initial inspiration for the astro turf from former Head, Tim Manning, and thanked Lucy Armstrong who leads the school’s Development Association as well as parents and pupils for their support and endeavours to fund the School’s new astro turf.

He said that the pitch provides an excellent all round surface for pupils to use for hockey as well as for other sports throughout the year.

Head girl, Siobhan Bankier, gave a vote of thanks to Richardson Walsh and reflected on her inspiration for everyone – including those future Olympians from Longridge.

After her visit, Richardson-Walsh tweeted: “Thank you for the very warm welcome. A wonderful school and pleasure to meet you all. Enjoy your pitch!”

Richardson-Walsh signed a postcard for all 333 pupils and left a signed top from the Rio Olympics for the school’s Christmas auction.