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Wales Online
Wales Online
Robert Harries

The Welsh teenager about to attend one of the most prestigious schools in the world where future Prime Ministers and Hollywood stars are put through their paces

A Welsh teenager has amazed his family and his teachers alike by being awarded a place at one of the most well-known and prestigious schools in the world. Founded in 1440 by Henry VI, Eton College in Berkshire is the largest boarding school in England.

Renowned throughout the world, the college’s alumni includes current Prime Minister Boris Johnson as well as a host of former UK leaders including David Cameron and William Gladstone. You can get the latest WalesOnline newsletters e-mailed to you directly for free by signing up here.

Future King Prince William and his younger brother Prince Harry also attended Eton, as well as George Orwell, James Bond creator Ian Fleming, adventurer Bear Grylls, and a host of big-name Hollywood actors including Hugh Laurie, Tom Hiddleston, Eddie Redmayne and Damien Lewis.

Read more: The couple who walked away from their careers to buy a pub in the country

Well from September you’ll be able to add Freddie Webber from Loughor to that illustrious list. Freddie, who is 16, first applied to attend Eton last year, and will study English, French History and Politics at A-level there for the next two academic years, having completed the first five years of his secondary education at Coedcae School in Llanelli.

“I was in school when I found out,” said Freddie. “Mum kept ringing me and when I got the chance to ring her back she told me I’d been accepted. I did a little skip! I was so glad, it was just a feeling of pure happiness.”

Despite being academically strong from an early age, it wasn’t until the changes that the coronavirus pandemic brought to education that Freddie had something of a light bulb moment about what he wanted to do next. “I started thinking about trying to go to Eton during Covid, when we were all sat at home,” said Freddie, who travelled to Berkshire for assessments and an interview over the course of a busy weekend before being accepted.

“I felt a bit stagnated and just wanted to do something that would stretch myself and open up a new world. The initial process was quite simple, similar to applying to university. We had to do an online application and write a personal statement, but it was also demanding and academically difficult because it was competitive. I’m very excited. I’ve already met the people who I’m going to live with so I don’t have the fear of going into the unknown. I’m just excited to get stuck into it.”

16-year-old Freddie is contemplating going into politics one day (Dimitris Legakis/Athena Pictures)
Freddie Webber from Loughor, between Llanelli and Swansea, who will soon be heading to Berkshire to study at Eton College (Dimitris Legakis/Athena Pictures)

As for what he does after the Eton experience is completed, Freddie is not making any decisions just yet, instead preferring to take things one step at a time to make sure he takes it all in. “I would like to go to university and, as everyone has aspirations to do as well as they can, I will try my best to get into Oxford or Cambridge, but I’m not really fixed on any particular goal. I would like to study languages at some point and go into politics or something in the public sector. I have had thoughts about joining the UN or becoming an MP, and I want to make a real difference in the real world. I don’t want to just make money when I’m older, I would like to do something positive.”

An Eton education normally costs almost £50,000 a year per student, but Freddie will attend as part of the Orwell Award programme, which the college says offers “fully funded places to talented boys whose life opportunities have been limited”. The process saw 400 boys from across the whole of the UK whittled down to 33, and then finally only 12 were accepted on the scholarship programme, which are offered “with the intention of providing candidates with a transformative educational experience that they would not have otherwise been able to access”. This means the college will pay for Freddie’s school and boarding fees, school uniforms, stationery, sports and hobbies, music lessons, school trips and even pocket money!

Freddie’s mother Vicky Taylor, who works in sales, is made up with her son’s achievement. “He’s always been very focused and very interested in reading,” she said. “He’s a big reader and I’ve always tried to encourage him to do that from when he was very, very small. He’s always been very interested in the world around him and he has a curious mind, and a determination to do well.

“The scholarship gives people - who would never have it in a million years normally - the chance to have this outstanding education. Eton has a passion for education and it’s a wonderful opportunity for him. When we heard that Freddie had made it and been offered a place, I was over the moon for him. It’s hard to put it into words how proud and happy I am. It means so much to me because I know how hard he works. I’m delighted that he’s been given this chance, and the whole family are so, so proud.”

Freddie will study four A-levels at Eton (Dimitris Legakis/Athena Pictures)
Freddie with his mum Vicky (Dimitris Legakis/Athena Pictures)

Staff at Coedcae School too are beaming with pride at the fact that one of their own is going to continue his studies at such a prestigious college. The school said: “Congratulations Freddie, an outstanding achievement! We are extremely proud of him, wish him well for his journey ahead and can’t wait for him to return to school in the future to inspire others.”

Freddie himself plans to enjoy his well earned summer holidays before setting off for his new adventure in two months’ time. “It is truly an incredible opportunity,” he said. “I urge anyone who dreams of further study in such a historic setting to apply, even if it doesn’t seem possible, because it is."

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