Don’t kill off my school pleads pop star Ben


By Jonathan Ashby


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WOOLVERSTONE Hall boarding school is a unique seat of learning. It charges its pupils £8,000 a year — more than Eton. Yet it is a State comprehensive which takes in problem boys whose fees are paid by the Inner London Education Authority. A Forty Minutes TV documentary last week showed how the school, near Ipswich, is battling for survival. Here its most famous old boy, pop star Ben Volpeliere-Pierrot, reveals why he’s determined to save it.

THE first time he saw the imposing Georgian monument he felt like running away. But Ben Volpeliere-Pierrot, Curiosity Killed The Cat star, stayed to become a model pupil.

Woolverstone Hall boarding school made him — and he’s never forgotten the debt he owes it.

And the old school ties bind him to its fight for a future. Ben was 11 when he went there — a shy boy, whose parents had broken up, being sent away from home for the first time.

He says: “It looked extremely grand, too grand in fact and all I wanted to do was run back home to London.”

Ben’s fashion photographer dad Jean Claude and his model mother Belinda had split up two years earlier and both found it tough to make ends meet.

For Ben and his older brother Dominic the school was a way forward.

Ben says: “There should be more schools like Woolverstone. It offered real hope for me and my brother — and a lot of other kids.

“Many of the kids came from poor, broken homes and would have probably ended up in care if they hadn’t landed a place at the school.

“Many of us had chips on our shoulders in the beginning. But the masters were really understanding — firm but friendly.


Hardly your average rock star’s description of his schooldays. But Woolverstone, tagged the working class Eton, is an institution Ben cherishes.

“It was run very much in the tradition of an old-fashioned public school,” he says.

“I was given the slipper for fighting several times in my first two years at school, but I quietened down after that.”

Favourite subjects were art, music and English.