Vintage Kingston: Princess Diana visits Tolworth primary school

This Is Local London: Princess Diana at Knollmead Primary School Princess Diana at Knollmead Primary School

Friday January 20th 1989: Princess Diana, then 28 and still married to Prince Charles, was met with gasps of admiration from onlookers when she visited Knollmead Primary School in Tolworth on February 18 in 1989.

Clutching bunches of daffodils and frantically waving Union Jacks, scores of youngsters turned out to welcome her and were rewarded with an impromptu Royal walkabout.

The much-loved people’s princess, who is still lauded for her charity work and the interest she took in helping the less fortunate, was visiting the school’s special hearing-impaired unit.

As a patron for the British Association for the Deaf, she was there to see how deaf children are taught to hold conversations by using special hearing aids.

Laurentia Tan, a nine-year-old hearing-impaired pupil with cerebral palsy, presented Diana with a bouquet.

Ms Tan has since become Singapore’s most decorated Paralympian and one of its most celebrated athletes.

The Para-equestrian competitor won bronze and silver medals at the London 2012 Olympics, after winning two bronze medals at the Beijing Games in 2008.

Her father, Mr Anseln Tan, said on the day she met Diana: “I was afraid she would fall on the Princess she was so excited.”

The princess, wearing a hearing amplifier so deaf children could hear her, spent an hour meeting pupils, chatting to staff and local residents and meeting older deaf children from the nearby Hollyfield Secondary School.

Diana was looking bronzed after her Caribbean holiday the week before and wore a cherry-coloured military-style coat with long black suede boots and carried a matching black clutch bag.

She was greeted by the mayor of Kingston, Councillor Marjorie Hartfree, and a line-up that included Surbiton’s MP, Mr Richard Tracey, and Kingston Council’s chief executive Mr Robert McCloy.

50 years ago: January 22, 1964 Captain Thomas H Yalden, who was thought to have been Kingston’s oldest Army veteran, died in his home aged 85. He joined the Army in 1898, enlisting in the 6th Inniskilling Dragoons, who were recalled from India to serve in France when war broke out in 1914. He went on to become recruitment officer.

25 years ago: January 20, 1989 Surrey County Council had just launched a shock bid to regain control of the Royal Borough of Kingston. If the Boundary Commission approved, this would have ended Kingston’s 24-year spell as a London borough, which it became in 1965. Kingston Council’s chief executive Bob McCloy, called Surrey’s announcement, which was ultimately fruitless, “naive and totally unacceptable”.

10 years ago: January 23, 2004 Contractors hoping to build facilities for the London 2012 Olympics were in talks with councillors and planners about the possibility of building an international quality swimming pool in Kingston. King George’s playing fields in Tolworth had been earmarked as a potential site for the pool where it was hoped swimmers from around the world would train for the Olympics.

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