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The Duchess of Cambridge visits her old school

30th November 2012

The Duchess of Cambridge joins children for a game of hockey

The Duchess of Cambridge joins children for a game of hockey

The Duchess of Cambridge revealed today she wanted to be a teacher as she showed off her hockey skills during a visit to her old prep school.

Her Royal Highness confessed that she enjoyed her time so much at St Andrew's, a private institution, she told her mother she wanted to return as a member of staff.

And she said that she and her sister Pippa had kept guinea pigs at the school in Pangbourne, Berkshire, with one named Pip, after her sibling, while the other took The Duchess's apparent nickname of Squeak.

The Duchess described her feelings about her ten years at the school during a short speech to open a new artificial pitch.

Later her hockey skills were on full show when she joined a group of year 8 12-year-olds for a training session.

The Duchess said in her speech: "It is such a treat to be back here at St Andrew's. I absolutely loved my time here; they were some of my happiest years, which makes it so incredibly special to be here today. 

"In fact, I enjoyed it so much that when I had to leave, I told my mother that I was going to come back to be a teacher. While that didn't quite happen, I was thrilled to have been asked back today on St Andrew's Day.

"It was while I was here at school that I realised my love of sport. 

"Sport has been a huge part of my life, and I feel incredibly grateful for the opportunities I had to get outside and play in such wonderful open spaces - though sadly there was nothing quite as glamorous as this in my time."

St Andrew's Day is marked by the institution, where The Duchess, 30, studied from 1986 to 1995, with a range of activities and festivities.

Founded in 1934 with a staff of two and just eight boys, it is still based in the same large red-bricked Victorian country house built in 1885 but it has been enlarged over the years.

Children aged three to 13 are taught at the private institution, which takes day students and caters for others who board.

The Duchess's first job was to sit down to lunch with staff and some of the older children, and she tucked into a meal of Scottish beef.

Past pupils returning to the private school can request a traditional St Andrew's pudding known as "birdseed" - a mixture of flapjacks and rice crispy cakes - and The Duchess plumped for this sweet treat.

St Andrew's takes pride in nurturing the creative and sporting talents of its pupils and the school revealed The Duchess took up the recorder and then moved on to the flute, which she played in the school orchestra.

In hockey, The Duchess captained the school side and was leading goal scorer in 1995. She still holds the senior girls' high jump record of 1.50 metres and the 4x100m record she set with three other girls has yet to be beaten.

She found herself reminiscing when she joined a group of two to six-year-olds during her tour of the school.

As she walked through a cloakroom lined with coats built at the entrance of a single-storey classroom, she said to headmaster Dr David Livingstone "this is new", then as the memories came back added: "I remember the little (coat) pegs."

Around 80 children were sitting cross-legged on the floor and after a few of them replied to her "hello" and wave, a teacher prompted them to say: "Good afternoon Your Royal Highness."

In keeping with the theme of the day, the children sang In Bonnie Scotland while four girls danced a jig.

After the performance, The Duchess took a seat and asked the children: "Do you have any animals?"

She added: "I can remember when I was here there were little guinea pigs. There was one called Pip and one called Squeak - because my sister was called Pippa and I was Squeak."

Later on the new artificial sports pitch, Her Royal Highness threw herself into the trainee hockey game with the youngsters.

The Duchess played on the wing and at one point crouched low to intercept a ball but it evaded her, and later she picked up her pace to keep up with the fast moving game.

Kirsty Parkhouse, head of girls games at the school, spoke to The Duchess: "She said it was very different playing on Astro Turf from when she played on grass but she really loved her sport at St Andrew's."