Abbey Gate College


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  • Category: Pre-Preparatory / Preparatory / Senior / Sixth Form
  • Pupils: Co-Education
  • Type: Day
  • Religious Affiliation: Non-Denominational
  • Roll: 280 (Boys) 205 (Girls)
  • Age Range: 4 - 18 years
  • Founded: 1977

General Information

Abbey Gate College is the longest running, independent, co-educational school for pupils aged 4 to 18 based in the Chester area.

At Abbey Gate College, our children are at the heart of everything we do.  We believe education is about inspiring a love of learning and building self-esteem to ensure they fulfil their academic and personal potential. Our teachers nurture their personalities, curiosities, skills and imagination to guarantee our children leave Abbey Gate College as confident, articulate and happy high achievers with an enthusiasm for whatever career path they chose.

At the Senior School, strong A level and GCSE results set our students on the road to success however, education is far greater than simply achieving super examination results; at Abbey Gate College the journey itself is of equal importance, providing a stimulating experience, widening opportunities and providing an education for life.  Extra-curricular activities enable all pupils to fully develop their talents outside of the classroom and the thriving Music, Drama and Sports Departments combine with Science clubs, The Young Engineers’ club and Young Enterprise groups, to name but a few, in providing the children with an all-round education.

In summary, Abbey Gate College is a successful and happy school, committed to maintaining traditional standards and high educational ideals. To fully understand what makes Abbey Gate College such a special place to be educated, please make an appointment to speak with the Headmistress, Mrs Tracy Pollard, the pupils and staff.  We look forward to welcoming you soon and providing you with a personalised tour of the stunning buildings, grounds and our excellent facilities – both at the Senior School at Saighton Grange and at the Infant and Junior School in the picturesque village of Aldford, which is the home of the Infant and Junior Schools.


The College emphasises the importance of building self-esteem and a love of learning in a friendly and caring environment and the extra-curricular program provides opportunities for pupils to experience challenge and the pursuit of excellence. The music department is renowned for the quality of its choral singing, with strong links to Chester Cathedral. Drama, sport and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme are thriving and outdoor adventures and leadership courses help children to build confidence and teamwork. Science Clubs, Young Engineers Club and Young Enterprise groups also add to the diversity of activities on offer. Pupils at the College undertake numerous educational visits and recent foreign trips include: Year 6 to France, Hockey and Football trips to Barcelona, Geography Department to Switzerland and Iceland and the History Department to Krakow, Auschwitz and the 1st World War Battlefields of Northern Europe.  Gifted and Talented pupils have their own program called ‘Invictus’ and the Debating Club continue to get to grips with the ‘topics of the day’


Purpose built facilities house all the subject departments and recent investment has been considerable at both Senior and Junior sites. There have been positive developments in teaching and learning with increased ICT provision and individualised monitoring of each pupil’s progress. These improvements, along with the dedication of the staff, have had a positive impact on academic performance, as shown by the strong results at GCSE and A level.

Investment has also been made in sports facilities with a new Sports & Teaching Pavilion completed in 2016 and an all-weather pitch opened in 2018. The idyllic village location of the Junior School at Aldford boasts extensive playing fields, purpose-built shaded area and an ecology park. The Infants and Juniors also share use of the extensive facilities at the Senior School.

Entrance Requirements

Entrance examination or informal assessment according to age.


Academic, Sports and Music. Some bursaries are available. Details are available from Mrs S Boyd, Registrar on 01244 564 170

Open Days

Please contact our Registrar on 01244 564170 or to arrange a visit or to attend one of our events below.

2018. Infant & Junior School: Sat. 29th September, 9.30am-12pm.

Senior School: Sat. 22nd September, 9am-12pm.

Sixth Form - Please contact us if you are interested in joining our Sixth Form in September 2018.


2017/2018. Senior School: £4136 per term. Infant and Junior Department: £ 2884 per term.


ISI Inspection 2018

School Contact Details

Headteacher: Mrs Tracy Pollard

Contact for enquiries: Mrs S Boyd, Admissions Officer,

Abbey Gate College
Saighton Grange

[t]: 01244 332077
[f]: 01244 335510

Location Description

Situated in a beautiful village location on the south eastern outskirts of the cathedral city of Chester. Between A55 and A41 and within easy reach of M6 and M56.

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School News

Abbey Gate College Independent Cheshire Abbey Gate College Pupils Attend 'Oscar Night' Ball

On Friday 20 April, Year 11 and Sixth Form students from Abbey Gate College enjoyed a night at their Upper School Ball.

The event, held at

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Carden Park Hotel set within 1,000 acres of stunning Cheshire countryside, had an ‘Oscar Night’ theme. The evening was well-organised by members of the Sixth Form with an awards ceremony, film-themed photo booth and DJ.

Upper Sixth students who have applied to University had good reason to celebrate with many receiving impressive offers to study courses of their choice. All 29 students who have made University applications have received one or more offers and 20 students received offers from four or more Universities.

12 students have accepted unconditional University offers and another 7 students also received unconditional offers.

Head of Sixth Form, Mr Cavallini said: “Our students work exceptionally hard on their University applications with support from our experienced staff. These offers are the culmination of months of discussion and hard work, both on the applications themselves and on their A Level subjects.”

He added: “Abbey Gate College students’ UCAS applications continue to be very successful as they celebrate well-rounded and skilled individuals who are highly sought after by the best Universities. We look forward to them achieving their offer grades in the summer, before launching into the next stage of their academic journey.”

Abbey Gate College Independent Cheshire Abbey Gate College Pupils Support DiAthlete on his Challenge to Run 25 Marathons in 30 Days!

On 6 May, Ben Mason and Daisy Lawson from Abbey Gate College, accompanied DiAthlete, Gavin Griffiths on the Chester leg of his challenge

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to run 25 marathons in 30 days.

The challenge, which took place across various locations in the UK, aimed to inspire the type 1 diabetes community, raise funds for educational awareness and to help people with type 1 across the world living in places with inadequate healthcare.

Year 9 pupil, Ben ran an incredible half marathon alongside Gavin, from the gates of Abbey Gate College to the finish. While Daisy, Year 5, ran an amazing 3 miles with Gavin, then cycled 8 miles alongside him from Chester Racecourse to Eccleston, before crossing the finish line with him carrying his Olympic torch. Both Ben and Daisy have type 1 diabetes.

Gavin was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was 8. He now spends a huge amount of time travelling across the UK raising awareness and inspiring young people living with type 1, spreading the message that having the condition does not have to hold you back, you can still do anything!

The course began at the Countess of Chester Hospital before joining the City Walls, continuing through the Duke of Westminster’s Estate, the villages of Eccleston, Aldford and past Abbey Gate College in Saighton. The run continued into Chester via Christleton and Waverton, before finishing back at the Countess of Chester Hospital.

Ben and Daisy are both great advocates of Gavin’s message, neither of them let diabetes hold them back from achieving their goals.

Abbey Gate College Independent Cheshire Abbey Gate College Chapel Choir Perform Evensong at St Paul's Cathedral

For the 29th consecutive year, Abbey Gate College Chapel Choir were honoured to sing Evensong, one of the most-loved services, at St Paul’s Cathedral in

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Surrounded by St Paul’s awe-inspiring interior and incredible acoustics, the 55 members of the choir performed to a congregation of over 600. Many of whom are regular attendees at Evensong and many tourists visit especially to take part in the service.

Under the direction of Head of Music, James Andrews the choir sang the Preces and Responses, the Psalm for the Feast of the Annunciation, the Canticles written by H Brewer and the anthem ‘Bogorodytse Devo’ by Rachmaninoff.

Mr Andrews said: “It was a very prestigious occasion and a hugely valuable experience for all of our pupils. The children’s performance was of an excellent standard and as always they were well behaved and great ambassadors of the College.”

Abbey Gate College Independent Cheshire Abbey Gate College Students Win Awards at ISA Drama Festival 2018

A powerful performance of Arthur Miller’s, The Crucible by A-Level drama students from Abbey Gate College saw them receive not one, but two awards at

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the ISA Drama Festival 2018. The talented cast received ‘The Hurst Lodge Award’ for best senior production and ‘The Hollygirt Prize’ for the Best Moment of Theatre in a Senior Production.

The annual festival sees ISA Members’ schools from across the country perform in competition. Each performance is assessed by an independent judge against set criteria. Winners are awarded over a variety of categories.

The Hollygirt Prize, the Adjudicator’s Discretionary Award, was given for the students’ effective creation of heightened tension during the section from when Abigail and the girls see the bird on the rafter.

Adjudicator, David Farmer said: “This was a simple yet powerful performance of a seminal scene from a classic play. The minimal staging employed wooden blocks and grey costumes. The tension built slowly from the start. The young cast gave sophisticated and credible performances, especially the leading characters and particularly Thomas Fesmer as Danforth.”

He added: “The abuse of power and misogynistic attitudes were deftly portrayed. The tension built and then dramatically erupted at moments with the powerful use of choral movement and voice. Music was used to heighten tension during the piece. This was a riveting ensemble performance.”

Abbey Gate College Independent Cheshire Abbey Gate Musician Accepted to Study at Junior Royal Northern College of Music

Year 10 pupil, Henry Smith from Abbey Gate College has been accepted at the Junior Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester.

This follows a successful

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audition performed on tuba and piano, both of which he will study at the Junior RNCM in September.

The Junior RNCM operates on Saturdays during term time, providing expert tuition and specialist training for children with exceptional musical ability, many of whom go on to study music at conservatoire or University.

Henry follows in the footsteps of his piano teacher, Toby Stanford an ex-pupil of Abbey Gate College and a member of the Junior RNCM. In September Toby is going to read Music at Oxford University.

Henry’s father, Stewart Smith, former Director of Music at Abbey Gate College said: “I am delighted with Henry’s success which is all down to his dedication to both instruments and to the excellent teaching he has received from Mr Bowen-Lewis (tuba) and Toby Stanford (piano)”.

Abbey Gate College Independent Cheshire Abbey Gate College Celebrates 40th Anniversary at Chester Cathedral

In April, pupils past and present came together for a service of thanksgiving held at Chester Cathedral to celebrate 40 years of Abbey Gate College.


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pupils and parents in the congregation were the founding governors, past heads and former teachers.

The service marked 40 years since a group of friends and parents came together to form a co-educational independent day college with the aim of bringing out the best in each child according to individual potential.

The service led by Cathedral Precentor and College Governor, Canon Jeremy Dussek included readings, poems, reflections and performances by pupils from Foundation to Sixth Form. Along with former pupil from the first intake and governor, Emma Bunting who shared her memories of her time at the College.

Amongst other music, the Infant and Junior School choir performed ‘Sing’ by Gary Barlow, and the Senior School choir sang ‘O Thou the Central Orb’ by Charles Wood and ‘In my Father’s House’ by Philip Stopford. The choirs were accompanied by Cathedral Director of Music and ex-pupil, Philip Rushforth. During the service the Concert Band played ‘Back to the Future’ by Alan Silvestri.

Headmistress, Tracy Pollard said: “The service was joyous, celebratory and moving and highlighted the feeling of community which Abbey Gate College embodies. It was a wonderful evening which brought parents, pupils and teachers, past and present back together to celebrate its founding 40 years ago.”

Abbey Gate College Independent Cheshire Abbey Gate College Pupils Embrace Wellbeing Day

At the end of February, pupils across the school from Infants to Sixth Form took part in Abbey Gate College’s first Wellbeing Day.

The pace of

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life, concerns about school work, friendships, parents and the impact of social media on children’s lives means that it is more important than ever for pupils to learn how to manage stress and take care of their own wellbeing.

The whole school were off timetable for the day so that pupils could participate in a variety of talks and activities themed around positive mental health and wellbeing. The sessions focused on enabling students to understand their feelings and emotions and develop strategies to look after their own wellbeing, as well as that of their friends.

Younger pupils enjoyed a mixture of activities, including singing for fun, dance yoga and British Red Cross first aid, and participated in workshops such as personal safety with PC Sally Malone.

At the Senior School, the morning sessions involved talks on key wellbeing topics, such as mental health first aid, alcohol awareness and time management.

The afternoon saw pupils learning new skills, getting active, getting outside in the fresh air, working together, getting hands-on, learning strategies around resilience and managing anxiety, taking time out from the usual routine and getting creative. Pupils chose two activities from 21 possible choices, ranging from yoga to gardening, mindfulness to money skills and camp craft to chess.

Feedback from pupils was overwhelmingly positive, with children saying how much they had enjoyed the day and felt inspired.

Head of Pastoral, Nerys Moses said: “When you hear a Sixth Form pupil leaving a session of yoga and loudly announcing, ‘That was one of the best things I have ever done!’ you realise how worthwhile it is to devote time to wellbeing. It has been a privilege today to watch pupils taking advantage of the opportunities available to them to try something new. There has been a real buzz in the air.”

Abbey Gate College Independent Cheshire Abbey Gate Charity Variety Performance Raises £1500 for ACET UK

Talented students at Abbey Gate College have raised £1500 for ACET UK, a Christian charity championing healthy relationships and sexual wellbeing.

Head Girl, Holly Gray organised

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a variety performance which took place at the beginning of March, comprising of singers, comedians, instrumentalists and even a magician!

The event was a showcase of talent with performers moving the audience from tears to laughter. Acts included Oliver Smith singing ‘The Music of the Night’ from Phantom of the Opera, Evie Murphy playing ‘My Heart Will Go On’ from Titanic on the harp, a musical comedy sketch by Charlie Jelfs and Sol Ward and an emotional song composed and performed by Maise Watkins.

The evening of entertainment was attended by over 100 people including parents, staff and a representative from ACET UK, who talked about the difference the donations will make to young people throughout the UK and internationally.

Holly said: “I am so proud of all our talented and passionate performers who have raised a fantastic sum of money for such a great cause. It was a night of unity from all the performers, volunteers and our audience, that captured the essence of what makes Abbey Gate College so special. Thank you so much to everyone who got involved or donated.”

Abbey Gate College Independent Cheshire An AmaSing Performance From Abbey Gate Pupils

On 14 March, a group of ‘AmaSing’ singers from Abbey Gate College Infant & Junior School performed at Chester’s brand new theatre, Storyhouse in a

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massed choir made up of over 25 local schools.

The event organised by new community interest company, AmaSing took place over three days and involved more than 1000 children performing a selection of songs, some of which were specially written for the choir by Matt Baker and Andrew Smith.

Seven months of preparation, learning lyrics and dance moves were finally over, and the day had arrived for pupils to show parents and friends their musical skills and talents.

The children performed on stage, backed by a live band and conducted by the organiser, Rachel Borman.

The evening, presented by actor Simon Smithies, included dance groups and a singing ensemble, along with ten songs performed by the AmaSing choir. It finished with a rousing rendition of ‘Gonna Live my Life to the Full’, written and recorded to raise funds for the Macmillan Cancer Charity.

A special mention must go to Luca Richards from Year 6 at Abbey Gate College, who helped to write the song, ‘If we could Rule the World’ which was also performed on the evening.

Music teacher, Jane Dukes said: “The children, all dressed in their sky blue ‘AmaSing’ T-shirts, were thrilled and excited to be involved in such a fabulous show. They performed brilliantly and were a credit to the school.”

Abbey Gate College Independent Cheshire From Classrooms to Newsrooms at Abbey Gate College

On 15 March, classrooms at Abbey Gate College turned into newsrooms as Year 8 pupils became reporters for BBC News School Report Day!

The annual news

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day gave students across the country the chance to practise their journalism skills and make their own news reports for a real audience.

Pupils chose their own subject matter and produced either a written or film report on news that matters to them. Topics ranged from limiting social media to gun laws, the royal wedding to Elon Musk and Motor Neurone Disease to banning homework.

The young reporters received expert advice from BBC News Producer, Michaela Howard. Pupils learnt how to find stories, identify fake news and about interview techniques. Michaela also worked with students on producing and editing film reports.

Head of English, Kate Baty said: “For the fifth successive year, I am impressed by the quality and variety of the reports produced by our Year 8 pupils for BBC News School Report Day. It’s a fantastic opportunity for them to experience the processes involved in making the news. It has been a productive, fun and extremely busy day!”

Abbey Gate College independent day school Cheshire

For the second year in a row Abbey Gate College has been placed top of the Department of Education Performance Tables in Cheshire West and

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Chester for Pupil Progress at A level.

These tables include all state-maintained and independent schools in the area and the outstanding 0.3 progress score places Abbey Gate College in the ‘well above average’ category – the only school to achieve this in the Cheshire West and Chester area, and in the top 5% of schools and colleges in England.

The figures indicate how much progress pupils who studied A levels at Abbey Gate College made between the end of their GCSEs and the end of their A levels, compared to similar students across England.

The scores are calculated by comparing the A level results of pupils at the College with students in schools across England who started with similar results at the end of their GCSEs.

Measuring Pupil Progress provides a clear indicator of how much value a school adds to its pupils during their time in the Sixth Form.

A level results in 2017 saw 90% of students at Abbey Gate College obtain a grade A*-C, an increase of 7% from 2016.

Headmistress, Tracy Pollard said: “I am thrilled and delighted that for the second year in a row our A level students have secured the ‘top spot’ in the DfE’s Performance Tables for Pupil Progress at A level in Cheshire West and Chester. The students’ determined effort, combined with excellent teaching by highly qualified and passionate staff has demonstrated once again just how committed we are in nurturing our students to help them reach their academic potential.”



Abbey Gate College independent day school Cheshire

Abbey Gate College welcomed former Premier League and England footballer, Michael Owen on Friday to formally open the school’s much anticipated, state-of-the-art all-weather pitch.

Special guest

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and patron of the fundraising committee, Michael Owen unveiled the new facility alongside Headmistress, Tracy Pollard and Chair to the Governors, Felicity Taylor as part of the school’s vision to provide outstanding sporting opportunities for everyone, today and for many generations to come.

Following the ribbon cutting and speeches pupils watched from the spectator area as Michael Owen concluded the ceremony by scoring three goals from the centre of the pitch, much to the delight of the crowd.

In the evening, celebrations continued with invited guests watching from the Sports & Teaching Pavilion as the floodlights were switched on in dramatic sequence to reveal the new facility. The evening included an impressive display of skills from Chester Hockey Club, led by England and Great Britain co-captain, Phil Roper and pupils from Abbey Gate College.

Headmistress, Tracy Pollard said: “I believe passionately that sport has a place in every pupil’s life. We have to nurture the health and well-being of our youngsters by creating opportunities which allow them to be active in ways that they enjoy and in which they can be successful.

“I am thrilled and delighted that as part of our 40th anniversary celebrations we are able to open our state-of-the-art all-weather pitch, for the use of our current and future pupils but also for the benefit of the wider community. We are proud to be able to provide top class facilities for use by our local community.”

The full size, floodlit all-weather pitch is the best national standard hockey facility in the North West. It is also suitable for playing tennis, football training and a variety of skills-based activities.

The multi-purpose surface will significantly increase the amount of time pupils will be able to take part in sport, practise their skills and participate in competitive fixtures. It will give pupils the opportunity to fulfil their potential, including those who aspire to compete at an elite level.

The ambitious project, made possible through fundraising, grants and donations, stemmed from a desire and vision to extend the provision of sport for all age groups, all year round and to create a culture of being active, healthy and happy.

As well as the current pupils, the local community are also invited to make use of the new facility.



Abbey Gate College independent school Cheshire

Abbey Gate College, in Chester are all geared up to start playing Futsal after receiving a free starter pack – news that has delighted Michael

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Skubala, England Futsal Head Coach.

The pack contains Futsal foldaway goals and special futsal balls and bibs, which will allow regular provision of Futsal to develop passing skills with the low bouncing ball making passing and control are a key element of sessions as they are a vital component of the game today.

The starter packs are designed to adapt existing sports halls, playgrounds and other hard surface facilities to make them Futsal-ready. The packs came courtesy of a £300,000 Futsal scheme, which is funded by The FA and delivered by the Football Foundation.

Futsal is a five-a-side game, normally played on a flat indoor pitch with hockey-sized goals and a size four ball with a reduced bounce. The exciting, fast-paced game is played across the world and is officially recognised by both UEFA and FIFA.

Regarded as an important and growing game, it is hoped that the provision of equipment and courses will lead to the development of more Futsal players, leagues, competitions and facilities across the country.

The nature of the game places a large emphasis on technical skill and ability in situations of high pressure, and is subsequently an excellent breeding ground for football competencies that can be translated into the 11-a-side format of the game.

As well as delivering the Futsal scheme, the Football Foundation delivers Grow the Game and also the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund on behalf of the Premier League, The FA and the Government, through Sport England. Since 2000, the Foundation has supported over 15,000 grassroots projects worth more than £1.4bn.

Michael Skubala, England Futsal Head Coach, said: “A big well done to Abbey Gate College for securing a Futsal starter pack – they have a bright future ahead of them now! We want to get more people playing the sport for the love of it and who knows; perhaps we’ll see some future international players unearthed as a result. Futsal is growing all the time and The FA, with the help of the Football Foundation, is dedicated to increasing its importance and popularity further For All.”

Chris Cutler, Head of PE at Abbey Gate College, said: “The Futsal starter pack has already allowed Chester FC U18 girls to come and practice on a weekly basis and we are looking to develop this relationship to bring high quality competition to both boys and girls of all ages. The Futsal starter pack will be a massive boost in providing superior delivery of these sessions and we would like to thank The FA and Football Foundation for the original investment to hopefully help produce players of the future.”

For details on hiring the Sports Hall please contact, call 01244 332077 or visit

Abbey Gate College Independent Cheshire Abbey Gate College Infant and Junior School Welcomes Duke of Westminster for Ground-breaking Ceremony Marking Start of New Development

Independent school Abbey Gate College Infant and Junior School recently welcomed the Duke of Westminster to mark the start of construction of their new Foundation

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and Infant class building.

The co-educational school, based in the village of Aldford just outside Chester, prides itself on small class sizes and providing the best quality of education. The Duke of Westminster was accompanied by Trustees of the Grosvenor Estate and members of the Eaton Estate staff who will be working with the College to bring this exciting project to fruition in the coming months. The Head mistress of the Infant and Junior School, Mrs Marie Hickey, was presented with an engraved spade by the Duke of Westminster to mark the special occasion.

The new building will provide three spacious classrooms, two with covered outdoor areas as well as a larger library and space for learning enrichment and pastoral care. The development will also mean space in the main building is created to expand on current facilities such as a dedicated art and design studio, music area, science lab and a more expansive library space.

The Duke of Westminster said: “This has been a project close to my heart and we have spent a lot of time developing a plan which is suitable for the children and the teachers but which will also stand the test of time.

“The school is at the centre of the community in Aldford and it’s important we continue to build on what we have and invest in the current and future generations. It’s an exciting time in the village with the development of the school and the village shop and I look forward to seeing the project complete.”

The development will be made with welsh blue slate, Oak from the Eaton Estate and artisan brick from a local manufacturer, to help ensure it is in keeping with the character and heritage of the village. The new building will exceed minimum building regulations and has been designed to minimise heat loss and be energy efficient.

Marie Hickey, Headteacher, said: “We are committed to showing our children have every opportunity to reach their potential, have new experiences and most importantly become responsible adults who take their place in society. This building will provide us with the platform to take learning from the classroom into the outdoors to contribute to the children’s learning and enhance the experiences we already provide in our existing building.”

Abbey Gate College Independent Cheshire Abbey Gate College Pupils Cycle from Chester to London in 18 Hours Raising over £2,500 for Young Minds charity

Two pupils from independent school Abbey Gate College recently completed a cycle ride from Chester to London and raised over £2,500.

Their journey started at the

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Senior School in Saighton and came to an end at the Young Minds headquarters in central London just 18 hours after setting off.

All the donations will go to Young Minds.

Upper Sixth students Tom White and Ben Hall (along with PE teacher Dan Rowett, Ben’s dad Richard and keen cyclist Phil Faulder) decided to tackle the 200-mile cycle after Tom’s grandpa passed away leaving Tom his push bike.

The Chester-based school supports Young Minds as its charity of the year and Tom and Ben were both inspired by the work they do for young people’s mental health and wanted to contribute.

Tom said: “We think the work that Young Minds does is fantastic and when my grandad passed leaving me his pushbike I decided to do something positive. We’re thrilled to have raised so much money for the charity.”

The team trained for three months and hope to take on a new challenge next year and cycle from Land’s End to John O’Groats.

You can still donate at

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