A sixth form pupil at a London independent school has collected a British Empire Medal at a Tower of London ceremony.
Latymer Upper School’s Nina Andersen is the first student to ever receive the award, made as part of the Queen’s 2022 new year honours list.
The British Empire Medal recognises her establishing a non-profit community project to help ease elderly people’s feelings of isolation and loneliness during the pandemic.
Community Senior Letters (CSL) pairs schools and care homes so that students can write letters and offer residents a form of human connection.
It followed her realisation that lockdown would preclude the continuation of Community Senior Music, her initiative to take musical entertainment into care homes.
More than 250 schools and care homes in the capital have signed up to CSL, alongside others in Manchester, Bristol, Cambridge, Edinburgh and Dublin, while letters have been sent from North America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
I am excited to mentor and hand over CSL to younger students to continue the legacy – Nina Andersen
“It was such an incredible day,” said Nina, of her trip to the Tower of London. “Since I found out that I was included in the new year honour list, it all felt very surreal, especially with my A-level exams coming up in a few weeks.
“Collecting the medal in such an extraordinary setting felt very special and it’s something I will never forget.”
Just ahead of her first exam, Nina will attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace.
In September she will take up a place at the University of Pennsylvania, but not before she has recruited a team to ensure the letter-writing scheme continues in safe hands.
“It has been so fulfilling and a truly incredible experience,” she added.
“I am excited to mentor and hand over CSL to younger students to continue the legacy of CSL after I leave Latymer.”
Nina’s project was not the only time Latymer Upper School helped the community during lockdown. In February last year, we reported on how its Attain programme was offering catch-up lessons to disadvantaged local primary school pupils.