Robin Fletcher, Chairman of the Boarding Schools’ Association, visited us this week to commemorate Cranleigh Prep School joining the Boarding Orchard. This initiative was introduced by the BSA to symbolise member schools’ commitment to growth and caring for the environment. They aim to create the largest orchard, by distance, in the UK and this involves boarding schools joining together by planting fruit trees in their grounds.
Our current orchard was initially planted in 1947, to cover the mess created by the air raid shelters beneath it during the war. We invited two Old Cranleighans, Dudley Couper (also former Chairman of the Governors from 1995-2005) and Arthur Tabor, to join us on this special occasion, as their parents donated the original apple trees and their names are recorded in the painting that hangs in the Keppie Room.
Arthur and Dudley entertained us with tales of Prep School life during the war over lunch in the Head’s Dining Room. With cold showers, uncomfortable mattresses on iron beds and shocking food, amongst a much tougher culture with no home comforts, it was clearly a very different world to the one our pupils enjoy today! They recounted their experience of running for shelter in the cricket pavilion as they heard the ‘doodlebugs’ flying overhead.
The tree planting ceremony then took place in the orchard, with Dudley and Arthur both planting their new apple trees in the same position as their previous trees. We have now replaced approx. 75 trees so far and we plan to sell apple-related produce to raise money for the charity, ‘Tusk’ (www.tusk.org).