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Every year at Foundation Day [at Roedean South Africa] we remember the bravery of Theresa Lawrence who brought the traditions of Roedean and founded a school for women in a rough mining town far from the green rolling hills and the cold sea air of Brighton.
Theresa Lawrence, the youngest and perhaps most fearlessly pioneering sister, opened Roedean South Africa with 22 pupils in January 1903. This was right in the midst of the gold rush to the Witwatersrand, when Johannesburg had settled into a period of rapid and sustained growth.
The basic aims of school, the rules, the coat of arms, song and ethos travelled to Johannesburg with Theresa; most importantly, right from the beginning, there was the same emphasis on academic excellence. Like Roedean in Brighton, the school's international reputation attracts pupils from the African continent and beyond; the flags of 47 countries fluttered to celebrate the School’s centenary in 2003.
However, the environment is very different; Roedean South Africa is 400 miles from the sea. The buildings are white and cool, usually bathed in warm sunshine, and surrounded by luxuriant green plants.
Today, Roedean South Africa has over 800 pupils. Occasionally, their pupils come to study in Brighton; occasionally our staff have taught in Johannesburg.
In April 2011, the Roedean South Africa Girls Choir toured across the UK to great acclaim, performing their wonderful mix of sacred and secular music with a vibrant African flavour.
Our Roedean South Africa representative is Mrs Pat Wheatley (Wilding, No.1, 1960-1962).