Cheadle Hulme School’s sporting community came together with invited guests and Team GB, England Hockey, and Olympic gold-winning medallist Susannah Townsend during a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the official opening of the school’s brand new sports pavilion.
Guests were invited to explore the new building, including donors, Old Waconians (former students) and friends of the school.
CHS’s Chair of Governors, Mr Philip Johnson offered a warm welcome, thanking the donors and those involved in the project. He said: “It is an absolute delight to stand here in this fabulous facility.”
Introducing special guest Susannah, Head Lucy Person said: “When we think about athletes, the thing that makes them great is commitment, passion and attitude. Susie sums that up. She is a genuinely exciting player to watch and will always make something happen on the pitch.”
In a Q&A with the sports star, Lucy asked Susannah about the importance of sport and the spark that ignited her to play the sport she loved at such a high level.
Susannah said: “For me, my spark is asking myself 'what is important to me?' and 'why do I do this?' Sport is so much more than winning and losing. You create friendships and have experiences. My best friends are the people in my team, we’re all from different backgrounds but are all working towards a common goal and it’s a really exciting thing to do together. It leaves a smile on my face and that’s the reason I play.”
The pavilion, which includes improved changing facilities for all CHS's sporting teams, a larger multi-sports area and gym, a dedicated space for Junior School sports and a viewing gallery for spectators, also incorporates a well-being studio for activities such as Zumba and Pilates.
Susannah said well-being is an especially important consideration in sport. She said: “For me what’s really important is my mental game. How I conduct myself on the pitch and when I’m training. It’s so important to be yourself and that’s something I’ve discovered along the way.”
Susannah, who has just come back from injury said being a real athlete isn’t just about success. “Failure is hard but it’s essential to progress. You will have highs and lows. For a long time, I know each of my teammates and myself have all found it hard to call ourselves Hockey players; we often would say we did other things as well. But now we can call ourselves Hockey players, and that’s because we’ve been through the hard stuff before.”
After cutting the ribbon in front of a slide-show of CHS students in action in a range of sports, Susannah chatted with the guests before leading a skills session on the school’s astro pitch with the school's First XI and U14 girls' hockey teams.