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St Helen and St Katharine, Faringdon Road, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, OX14 1BE

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Old Girls Festival of Lacrosse

It was a day full of competitive play, a profusion of pink and delicious food, but most importantly this year’s annual Old Girls’ lacrosse match became a full Festival of Lacrosse to celebrate the life of Old Girl Ottie Uden who sadly died in 2017.

The Old Girls’ lacrosse match is a long standing fixture in the alumnae event calendar, so with Ottie’s love of the sport during her many happy years at St Helen and St Katharine, the event this year became a full tournament and celebratory occasion in her honour.

Some of Ottie’s closest friends from her leaving year of 2014 rallied former class mates and family members to coordinate ten teams of Old Girls from 2012 right up to 2018. A current team of St Helen’s students also participated to keep everyone on their toes.

Over 100 spectators cheered on from the side-lines, enjoying cakes and refreshments with donations to Histio UK, the Uden family’s choice of charity. Over £1000 was raised during the course of the day.

It was extremely heart-warming to see so many Old Girls and their families returning to the School for this special event. One parent of a 2012 leaver remarked: “It’s wonderful to be back at St Helen’s today; even though the day is of course tinged with sadness, seeing the girls support each other and remember Ottie in this way is lovely.”

Players and spectators were encouraged to wear pink, Ottie’s favourite colour, and every shade from neon to pastel pink was on show. A pink collar ribbon was even worn by one of the canine mascots, Harvey.

We were also delighted to welcome back the headmistress from Ottie’s time at St Helen’s, Rowan Edbrooke: “Today has been a wonderful occasion full of energy; perfect for the lovely vivacious girl that Ottie was.”

After two hours of hard fought play umpired by our own staff from the PE Department, former staff member Steph Furneaux and Old Girl Sara Benbow, the team of 2017 leavers were the final winners and were presented with the Ottie Uden Memorial Trophy by Mrs Alison Uden, Ottie’s mother, and her sister, Lydia.

Attendees stayed on and enjoyed food in the refectory and took time to record their recollections of Ottie in a special memory book alongside handmade photo collages of her and her friends. One of Ottie’s closest friends, Sophie Conway reflected on the day: “It was so wonderful to see so many familiar faces come together in memory of Ottie. The incredible support from all our St Helen’s friends made it a really special day.” Marina Aspinall, Head Girl 2015–16 said: “It has been a fabulous day commemorating the life of a fabulous girl.”

The trophy will now be awarded each year as part of the Old Girls’ lacrosse match and will take pride of place on display in the School for current pupils to see.

Ms Anderton, Alumnae Services Manager said: “Today has demonstrated just how strong our alumnae community is at St Helen’s. We have been proud to host today’s event in memory of Ottie and hope that all those attending enjoyed the day and found comfort from the enduring friendships made at the School.”

Summing up, Mrs Dougall said: “This has been an extraordinary afternoon to celebrate an extraordinary young woman. I feel privileged to be part of this community”.

A huge thank you to all who were involved in making the day a success. With particular thanks to Old Girls: Poppy McAlister, Sophie Conway and Hattie Coleman and to Mrs Keogh from our PE Department.

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