Last Thursday, Benenden School held its Centenary Global Conference. Titled ‘Inspiring Future Female Leaders’ the event saw HRH The Princess Royal in attendance, along with other high-profile alumnae who all gave keynote speeches as experts in their particular field. The Times of Tunbridge Wells was invited along to this very special historic event, which was held as part of the leading independent all girls school’s 100-year anniversary celebrations…
The Princess Royal visited her former alma mater Benenden School last Thursday (September 28), to speak at a special conference. The event formed part of the school’s centenary celebrations and saw students from 120 schools from both the UK and other countries in attendance.
Titled Inspiring Future Female Leaders, other former alumnae of the girls’ independent school present last Thursday included Olympian Georgina Seccombe MBE, Hollywood producer and bestselling author Dame Didi Wong, international businesswoman Dr Amy Jadesimi, Her Royal Highness Princess Basma bint Talal of Jordan and tech entrepreneur and former Made In Chelsea star Amber Atherton.
The Princess Royal’s speech, which was the last of the day, saw her share her own perspective on leadership, discussing life in the public eye and some of the impressive female leaders she has encountered over the years.
Her Royal Highness, who attended the school from 1963 to 1968 as a boarder, also took part in a panel discussion with former MI5 Director-General Baroness Manningham-Buller LG DCB and Benenden Headmistress Samantha Price.
“They discussed breaking through gender stereotypes and bias,” a Benenden spokesperson told the Times before adding: “They even gave Benenden’s Head Girl Olivia, who chaired the discussion, some advice on successful leadership.”
Last Thursday’s event was hosted in partnership with the International Coalition of Girls’ Schools and included students from 60 UK schools present along with students from 60 schools around the world from countries including Australia, India and the United States.
Benenden School is also partnered with the John Wallis Academy in Ashford and The Princess Royal inspected the Combined Cadet Forces of both schools as part of her special visit. She also launched the school’s centenary book, ‘Benenden 100’. The school’s Headmistress Samantha Price also spoke at the event, touching on ambition and what it means to be a female leader.
She said: “I very much hope that during my lifetime, as a society we reach the point where the gender of a female PM or CEO is not a news story, that women are so commonplace in Number 10 and boardrooms that her gender is irrelevant. I am confident that we will get there.
“Not everyone will run a country or a major company – and not everyone will want to. But leadership is not solely about being the most senior person in an organisation. Leadership is far more. Leadership is also about hard work – and earning respect. And this is, by no means, always easy.
“At Benenden we are committed to inspiring the next generation of future thinkers and leaders, a vision we have now been pursuing for 100 years. This conference was a testament to that and an unforgettable occasion, one we are honoured to have held in the presence of HRH The Princess Royal.
“This truly global occasion has facilitated the sharing of knowledge with students all over the world, in the hope that they can pass on what they have learnt with their peers, so that together we can inspire the next generation of future female leaders.”