HOCKEY: New pitch officially opened at Bilton Grange

Olympic medallist Georgie Twigg coaches a Bilton Grange pupil
Olympic medallist Georgie Twigg coaches a Bilton Grange pupil

England Over 50s team take on Old Biltonians

Bilton Grange Preparatory School hosted an unique hockey match on Sunday, featuring the England Oover 50s squad against an Old Biltonian team, to mark the opening of the Ken Waydelin Hockey Pitch, which has been built within the school’s Pugin Walled Garden.

Olympic bronze medallist Georgie Twigg, and GB hockey star Tom Carson were also invited along, and the pupils were lucky enough to enjoy a coaching session from them as well as the England squad coaches.

Spectators, including the mayor and Old Biltonians from across the generations, braved snow and arctic winds to enjoy a closely fought match. The final score, 2-2, reflects an evenly matched game, although towards the end the younger legs of the Old Biltonian Team ensured that they dominated, with several shots at goal well defended by the O50s. The OB goals were scored by Harry Carr and Lukas Lakin, and the England goals by Jeff Longdon and Phil Cobbold.

Bilton Grange deputy headmaster Paul Nicholson, is a current member of the Over 50s England Squad. The opposition included a number of pupils he had taught - including Mimi Tarrant and Ollie Rogerson, current members of the U18 and U16 England squads. The Old Biltonian team was a sharp match for the O50s England Hockey Squad, and featured pupils from across several decades.

The pitch is located within the only walled garden ever designed by renowned architect AW Pugin. The pitch has been made possible by a huge fundraising effort over several years, and the opening ceremony was an opportunity not just to celebrate the wonderful facility, but also to thank the many donors who had made it possible.

Headmaster Alex Osiatynski, said: “To mark the opening with such a match between an England hockey team and an Old Biltonian team, truly marks a momentous day in the history of Bilton Grange. This hockey pitch, in the stunning location of the Pugin Walled Garden, will play host to many memorable matches, of which this was just the first. This was a closely fought match, with some great play, and a fair result in the end.

“I would like to thank the many people who have made this possible, with their donations. As a school we will go ahead now with an unrivalled facility that enables our pupils to play truly great hockey.

“Ken Waydelin was an international hockey player who was the longest ever serving master at Bilton Grange. He inspired many generations of Biltonians to play hockey, and his name will now live on in the minds of current and future pupils.”