When Cognita Head Christine McLelland met Meghan Markle…

A chance encounter with a litter of newly born kittens three months ago led to one of our Cognita Heads meeting Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, in London this week.

Christine McLelland, Head of North Bridge House Nursery and Pre-Prep in London, and her students have been getting to know the work of animal welfare charity Mayhew since November 2018, when Christine found a stray mother cat and her five kittens in the garden shed of her home in London. Christine contacted Mayhew, which works to reduce the number of animals in need through pro-active community initiatives and preventative veterinary care.

Christine immediately shared the news of her special find with her Pre-Prep students. Mayhew has since kept in regular contact about the kittens – two boys and three girls – and their progress, with the students even providing names for the young animals: Leo, Percy, Sasha, Mia and Tiger-Lily.

Fast forward to the new year and news that Meghan Markle was to become the first royal patron of Mayhew. Upon the announcement of the Duchess of Sussex’s first official visit to the charity as patron, Christine was honoured to be invited along with Mayhew staff, volunteers and beneficiaries.

Christine described her delight in being able to share this special story with the Duchess of Sussex and everyone involved with Mayhew as well as her school community. “The story of the kittens has absolutely captivated our children – and that was before the Duchess of Sussex was involved! They’ve gained so much from seeing the kittens flourish and understanding more about the work and care of the Mayhew charity. The kittens are now old enough and ready for adoption and we look forward to continuing our relationship with Mayhew. That our care and joy had a place in the Duchess’s first official visit to Mayhew was the icing on the cake. It was an honour to meet her and hear her perspective on the charity’s work – she was so well informed and showed a real passion for what they do.”

Situated in the leafy London suburb of Hampstead, North Bridge House Nursery and Pre-Prep has always shown an affinity for animals. The fortuitously named ‘Cluckingham Palace’ opened at the Pre-Prep in June 2016 and houses a variety of bantam chickens, again, named by the pupils. The school has also welcomed the family-run mobile farm from Cambridgeshire, Home Grown and Raised, enabling the children to handle animals and learn more about their habits and behaviour. It’s just one way that Christine and her team are determined to “provide a platform for children’s inquisitive nature.”