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News > Alumnae news > St Mary's unveils £25 million fundraising campaign

St Mary's unveils £25 million fundraising campaign

St Mary's School is embarking on an ambitious fundraising campaign to mark our 125th anniversary which will be celebrated in 2023.
Gala Dinner at Peterhouse College
Gala Dinner at Peterhouse College

This ambitious five-year fundraising campaign, will help transform the school’s learning facilities for future generations of girls and young women studying in the city. At a gala dinner held at Peterhouse on 31 March, the school officially launched its Magnolia 125 campaign – outlining its ambition of raising £25 million by 2027.

Under the banner of Magnolia 125, St Mary’s wants to transform buildings across its historic sites on Bateman Street – enriching the learning environment for students and enabling a community outreach education programme focused on STEM subjects.

Guests at the Magnolia 125 gala dinner heard about five carefully selected projects – each designed to deliver far-reaching benefits for existing and future cohorts of students, as well as individuals accessing outreach activities at the school.

The projects include:

  • A brand new Creative Arts Hub: Built using modern Passivhaus building techniques, this new centre will provide energy efficient classrooms and facilities, expanding the school’s visual arts department.
  • Improvements to St Mary’s Senior School: A significant refurbishment programme will enable the school to expand and re-configure classrooms in the Senior School, creating larger, lighter, learning spaces. Improvements will also be made to the school’s frontage on Bateman Street; and the dining hall will be completely refurbished. Planning permission for this project has already been granted and building work is scheduled to commence in summer 2022.
  • A new Sixth Form Centre: ‘The Sixth’ will be made possible by erecting a new building in the grounds of the Senior School site. The new Sixth Form centre will include excellent teaching and learning spaces, alongside a dedicated Sixth Form café that will provide a valuable social space for students.
  • A Music Theatre: Built by removing existing buildings and constructing a new centre, this space will house a Learning Resource Centre (LRC), music studio, performance space, additional classrooms, and a gym.
  • An expanded STEM outreach programme: Following the construction of its newly-built Yingting Qian STEM Lab, St Mary’s wants to purchase specialist STEM equipment. Funds raised will also enable the school to kick start a STEM community outreach programme. The aim of this project would be to ignite a lifelong passion for science-based subjects in girls attending St Mary’s; in the wider Cambridge community; and further afield through digital teaching and learning opportunities.

St Mary’s fundraising gala dinner featured a powerful opening address by Dr Bridget Kendall MBE. The first female Master of Peterhouse, Dr Kendall spent 30 years working as a journalist including six years at the BBC as its Moscow correspondent. She spoke about her own fond experiences of being educated in Cambridge and her interesting career in journalism.

Magnolia 125 fundraising then got underway with an auction hosted by Freddie Mckibbin of Tattersalls, Newmarket. The auction saw guests bidding on luxurious items and experiences, such as a four-night stay in a beautiful cottage, which sleeps 10, on the North Norfolk coast; an overnight spa break at the Gonville Hotel; an exclusive behind the scenes tour of The National Gallery for six guests that focuses on its 200 year history; a piece of art named Transcendent Beauty, oil on canvas, which was kindly donated by Sue Rapley from Sue Rapley Art; as well as other amazing prizes.  

Headmistress at St Mary’s School, Charlotte Avery, said:

“Within Cambridge, our single-sex educational offer is already unique, but we want to go even further, enriching our learning environment for the future. From increasing the number and quality of our classrooms, to creating dedicated arts and music spaces, our proposed plans for Magnolia 125 will help propel education at St Mary’s to the next level and will also extend the benefits of our unique education further afield through extensive outreach work.

“Our gala dinner was a fantastic platform to unveil our plans and the evening was a real triumph. Magnolia 125 will ensure our campuses are fit for learning in a post-COVID-19 landscape, creating a truly inspiring environment that will enable our girls to aim higher, go further and achieve even more in the world. 125 years on from the founding of St Mary’s we’re continuing to look forward and build for the future - empowering, educating and inspiring tomorrow’s leaders, changemakers and global citizens.”



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