On Thursday 4th September 2014 Mount Pleasant were lucky enough to be visited by Prime Minister David Cameron and the President of the United States of America. Below are the written memories of pupils and memebers of the community who were in school or outside watching the events unfold. If you have any memories please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org
'I've touched President Obama'. My daughter Elin touched her Dad and me on the arm. She was on the point of collapse after a 6 hour marathon visit to the Celtic Manor NATO reception hosted by Prince Charles that had involved sitting at the front on the top deck of a double decker bus, 'thin broccoli', several changes of bus, her passport and a handwritten invitation from the Foreign Office. Then she went back to wash her hands.
The next day we went through the photos of the NATO leaders taken at Cardiff Castle. In addition to Mr Obama Elin thought she'd shaken hands and exchanged pleasantries with David Cameron, the President of Lithuania, the Prime Minister of Denmark (Neil Kinnock's daughter in law who featured in the selfie at Nelson Mandela's funeral), Prince Charles, and possibly the secretary general of NATO or the President of Slovakia - Elin couldn't distinguish between them in the photo in the Western Mail. Four days later whilst rifling through her reading folder she came out with 'the Chancellor of the Exchequer.'
When Elin showed me her invitation to go to the Senedd and meet First Minister Carwyn Jones I was very excited. Then Elin's friend Holly said 'show her the other one.' This was postmarked the FCO on an envelope of a quality that I haven't noticed Mrs Grant use before. It was the invitation to the Celtic Manor reception on behalf of Prince Charles.
Now I have to say I'm not a big royalist. Historically when my grandmother attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace for something or other, my mother would only drop her off at the gate. My late father had similar views and went out of his way to avoid positive royalty sightings. My husband's family are less rabid.
Then there was the whole guns 'n' war thing. The NATO summit is all about bombs and tanks and fighter aircraft on the putting greens and they want primary school children (more docile than secondary) to make it seem more cuddly. Perhaps I could let her go but salve my conscience by parading with a 'More teachers, fewer bombs' poster on Chepstow Road .
Then there was the party political angle. What if my friends saw pictures of Elin beaming at David Cameron implicitly offering her 10 year old support for the 'spare room subsidy?' By the time I'd reached Mrs Grant's office one thought was dominating - get over yourself it could be Barack. I did the RSVPing asap.
Apparently, "It was soft and squishy and warm." This was Elin's verdict on shaking hands with Barack Obama. So much for needing a firm handshake to signify your strength of character,
Finally, this hobnobbing is all very well but to my mind I think you'll find that the US Ambassador who graced year 4 is one of the most useful people you could meet. What if you're visiting DC, perhaps you can ask to stay in the Whitehouse since you know Matthew Barzun? And indeed I know that for one member of year 4 the food available from KFC on Cardiff Road is far superior to gussied up broccoli.
When we found out O'Bama was coming we wanted to give him something welsh so went and bought some Welsh Cakes (we didn't think he would be allowed home made ones!). I had to buy two lots - one for Barack O'Bama and one for David Cameron and I had to put pretty bows on them.
Hannah wanted to make a poem up so I helped her type up one for the special visitors and we worked together to make it rhyme. The poem was about the Nato visit and peace. Hannah put her name on the bottom of this and her
age. I had to then put the poem it in a special frame (which no doubt if
it was given to O'Bama was opened - I didn't even think about this).
Hannah picked a bag and put the poem and welsh cakes in this and printed an American flag to be stuck on the bag.
Everyone in the family was excited and decided to walk to school on the Thursday early to get there in time and so that all the family could watch.
We were amazed by the crowds and police and couldn't still believe O Bama was going to visit. All the family and friends waited for a good hour outside and everyone was in such good spirits. The convoy was unreal with over 22 cars turning up, they would never all get in the school. It was just as well the children couldn't see some of the protection officers with their protective gear and guns, they may have been afraid.
Hannah said about the visit that O'Bama and David Cameron were lovely and she was surprised that the children were allowed to ask questions. The visit didn't last for very long and photographs were taken. She asked a question to O'Bama about where he liked to visit in Wales and he said he wanted to Visit Stonehenge!
After the visit everyone was so excited to see all the pictures on the tele and in the newspapers seeing children and teachers. Everyone was amazing, it was a fantastic day from a brilliant school with brilliant staff and children.
All the children and parents are hoping to see some of the pictures and would be willing to pay for them.
Hannah was pleased with her bag from the White house and sweets which were a lovely memento of such a special day which will never be repeated.
My NATO experience has been a real family affair, starting on 4th November 2013, when the Celtic Manor Resort was announced as host to the 2014 NATO summit. It was in January 2014 that I began to appreciate the scale and significance of this momentous occasion, when my own Dad went on a business trip to Chicago, to meet the hosts of the previous NATO summit. He was meeting with representatives from a host of security services in his role as Director of Security at The Celtic Manor Resort, Newport where many of the meetings necessary to stage such an event took place.
On his return, the meetings continued and increased tenfold, meeting with Government Agencies and security services, including officers from NATO based in Brussels. My Dad's experience in Gwent Police as Head of Special Branch, was invaluable in supporting him in successfully meeting the demands the NATO summit would place on his resources and his time, taking him away from home on a regular basis. He was fortunate to also work alongside colleagues from Gwent Police, whom he had worked with on many occasions beforehand.
As you can imagine, this was all extremely exciting to witness, although any details remained firmly at the office.
As news of high profile guests to Mount Pleasant entered the public domain, my whole NATO experience became all the more surreal. Dad had moved into the resort for the week of the conference, along with the other Directors at the resort, to ensure everything was in place for a successful summit, no mean feat!
Both in school and at home, helicopters passing overhead had become common place, with my own four year old daughter asking if that was President Obama flying overhead as I tucked her into bed.
It was wonderful to greet an enthused Class 4L on the morning of Thursday 4th September 2014, hearing them sharing everything they had researched about the significance and size of the NATO summit being held in Wales. The children mind mapped all their ideas which were to help them write a news report and create their own news bulletin post-summit.
Class 4L had been asked to work in Mr Rothwell's room that morning and it wasn't long before the children realised this would actually give them a perfect view of the motorcade arriving. Matthew Barzun, the American Ambassador met with each class, asking and answering questions with ease. Cassie even taught Mr Barzun the phrase 'Sut wyt ti?'. We thanked him for his visit and eagerly prepared ourselves for the arrival of President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron.
The children lined the windows for the best vantage point, excitedly chattering amongst themselves, as they watched the security services organise themselves. As soon as they heard the helicopter ahead and the crowds outside clapping, they erupted into cheers, waving furiously as the motorcade sped past the classroom. Well done to Eve Lloyd who took some fantastic footage on our iPad. The children spotted the Welsh flag on the Presidential car and knew that this was significant. It was an absolute pleasure to witness the joy on the children's faces, truly an occasion they will always remember. But that was not it...approximately 30 minutes later, we witnessed the cars speeding out through the gates, with the children once again cheering and waving excitedly.
As soon as the last car had passed, the children rushed outside, where they chatted to the NATO Police officers, who came and took a class photograph for us, something to remember a truly remarkable day by.
An amazing opportunity for all involved, one that I feel very privileged to have witnessed in my own small way.
Photos and Videos
We have tried to collect as many photos from the visit as possible.
Click here to view them (updates will be added)
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