French President Francois Hollande officially opens new school in Wembley
PUBLISHED: 14:12 23 September 2015 | UPDATED: 14:13 23 September 2015
French President Francois Hollande officially opened a new school in Wembley during a symbolic visit yesterday afternoon.
The Socialist politician inaugurated the Lycee International de Londres Winston Churchill in Forty Lane, before heading off to Prime Minister David Cameron’s country residence, Chequers.
The school, formerly Brent Town Hall, opened 100 years after the Lycee Francais Charles de Gaulles in Kensington, named after their war time president.
It also falls on the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, when Winston Churchill was Prime Minister.
Mr Hollande said it was the first French school to carry a British name because they wanted to pay tribute to Churchill.
He added, in French: “We are all happy with the role he played in England, but also in France. He was good, he was just, and he was lawful.”
In his 25 minute speech he said Wembley was one of the most diverse areas in the country and referred to an inscription in the committee room which remembers the Caribbean and Indian communities in Brent. He said: “It’s a good symbol.”
Cllr Lesley Jones MBE, mayor of Brent and Cllr Muhammed Butt, leader of the Brent Council, were invited to the event where the school choir sung both the French national anthem, La Marseillaise and God Save The Queen.
Cllr Jones said: “A lot of people were standing in the hall waiting for the speeches and when the time came it was the president, with his entourage. He was very complementary about Winston Churchill.
“The school have done a beautiful job. It’s a wonderful transformation of the inside of the Town Hall and brought back memories of what it looked like before. I wish them every success.”
Leila Roy, whose son attends the school and was part of a group greeting the president, said: “He was extremely accessible taking selfies with the children and the parents. He stayed with the crowd for quite a while, the kids really enjoyed it.”
The Conservative councillor for Belsize Park added: “Politically I don’t agree with him but he donated 80 tickets for the Rugby World Cup tournament. I suppose it will be the school who will have to decide who goes.”
The Lycee opened on September 3 with 465 pupils aged five to 18. It has a capacity of 1,300.
Brent Council sold the Grade II listed building to the French Education Property Trust.