Published: 00:01, 10 December 2016
The executive principal and Commandant of the Duke of Yorks Royal Military School will retire at Christmas.
One of Chris Russell's many achievements has been to win back the school’s Royal Warrant and Crown, which was lost when it became an academy in 2010.
This involved a 14-month campaign involving the Palace, Crown Office and Cabinet Office.
During his time at the school near Dover, Mr Russell has overseen a £24.9 million refurbishment which has included a new sports centre, high-quality accommodation, teaching blocks and a performing arts centre; increased the school’s role and strengthened the military ethos which is based on qualities of leadership, character and resilience.
He has also been responsible for securing significant funding for the eight-lane floodlit running track, four netball courts and a new astro-turf for hockey, as well as a new floodlit parade square. In addition, he has enhanced the school’s international reputation by creating military links with USA, Spain, Portugal, France and Bangladesh.
Other international developments have occurred in the performing arts and science.
In recent years the school’s ceremonial parade has been inspected by Prince Harry, the Duke of Kent, and the British Army’s Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Nicholas Carter.
The school’s academic side has also thrived with a ‘good’ Ofsted report and major increased success at A Level, BTEC and GCSE.
Mr Russell was a governor at the school before becoming its head. His early career included a commission in the Royal Army Education Corps.
Outside the classroom, Mr Russell played professional cricket for Kent and Surrey. He represented the Army and Combined Services, captaining two championship winning Army sides. The arts have also been important – he has produced 55 international musicals and initiated and run the National Students’ Art Exhibitions at London’s Mall Galleries, now in its 15th year.
This year, Mr Russell became President of the British Torch of Remembrance and led the visit to Belgium, involving major wreath laying ceremonies including at the Cenotaph, Dover, the Menin Gate, Flanders Fields and the Kings Day Parade in Brussels.
Mr Russell said: “It has been a huge honour and a privilege to lead the school, with the support of an exceptional staff. I have many incredible memories to cherish, and I am particularly proud of the thousands of students who have benefited from the school’s unique ethos to become upstanding adults and leaders within their communities. This is an extraordinary, fantastic school with a unique and powerful heritage. I wish all the students and staff a very happy and successful future.” He will still have contact with the school having been appointed as a Trustee of The Dukies’ Foundation.
The school’s new Principal is Mr Alex Foreman who will start in January 2017.