A series of celebrations to mark 450 years of the Harpur Trust opened in Bedford with a service of thanksgiving.
More than 400 children were joined by teachers and staff from the Trust’s four schools to hear from former pupil Squadron Leader Charlotte Thompson-Edgar who was dubbed the ‘Angel of Afghanistan’ after rescuing more than 600 wounded troops by helicopter in Helmand Province.
Sqd Ldr Thompson-Edgar attended the former Bedford High School, which merged with Dame Alice School to become Bedford Girls’ School. Last year she was awarded the Royal Red Cross Second Class for exceptional services and devotion to duty.
During her address to the congregation, she spoke about the values she gained at school and how these have supported her in her career.
Afterwards she said she felt “delighted and honoured to have been asked to speak during the service and to play a part in the Trust’s 450th celebrations”.
During the service, tributes were paid to Sir William Harpur who founded the charity in 1566, and pupils laid wreaths on the tomb where he lies within the Trinity Chapel.
The children also performed in a joint choir and brass ensemble for guests, including Trust patron Richard Fuller MP, the Lord Lieutenent of Bedfordshire Helen Nellis, and High Sheriff Charles Whitbread.
For details of future celebration events, go to www.harpurtrust.org.uk/450.