Olympic gold medallist visits Saffron Walden County High for awards bash

From left, Olympian Ben Maher, Adele Rand, 13, and headteacher John Hartley.

From left, Olympian Ben Maher, Adele Rand, 13, and headteacher John Hartley. - Credit: Archant

OLYMPIAN Ben Maher paid a visit to his old high school for an awards bash held in a multi-million pound venue.

The Elsenham-based showjumper, who won gold in the team event at London 2012, returned to Saffron Walden County High as special guest on Tuesday night.

Parents of students in Years 7-10 got their first glimpse of Saffron Hall as the school hosted its first event in the town’s new auditorium.

Awards were given out to students who had excelled or made improvements in particular subjects during the previous academic year, as well as those who have overcome adversity. The evening is generally held at the end of the summer term but was delayed to allow for it to be held in Saffron Hall.

Refreshments were provided in the Boatman Centre beforehand, while parents and students were also treated to a serenade from the school’s orchestra.

Maher, who recently notched up the world number one ranking to go with his ever-bulging trophy cabinet, spoke to the Reporter ahead of the event. “This doesn’t even look like my school anymore,” he joked. “It’s changed so much but I guess that proves how old I’m getting!”

Referring to Saffron Hall, he said: “It’s an unbelievable facility they have here now. I always enjoy coming back here but I haven’t had much time to do so since the Olympics. This is the perfect opportunity to give something back.”

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At the event Maher was introduced to a keen showjumper looking to follow in his footsteps. County High student Adele Rand, 13, last month won the prestigious NAF Shining Star Award. Adele was ecstatic to meet her hero, with Maher calling it “brilliant” the pair of showjumping enthusiasts went to the same school.