Over 5,000 carnations sold: Walpole’s annual charity project takes over King’s for Valentine’s

While February 14th has become viewed as a commercial holiday by many, Valentine’s Day spirit has certainly gripped King’s today with over 5,000 carnations descending upon the school. Excitement is always high at this time of year, particularly among the lower school but also in the Sixth Form and even staff, thanks to Walpole’s charity scheme.

The girls’ boarding house spends the first half of every Lent Term organising the huge project, which sees every pupil in the school receive at least one carnation. Anonymous orders are placed with personalised messages that the girls must process, write onto cards and attach to flowers.

Not only does this bring the King’s community together and create a warm atmosphere before the half-term break but it also raises money for a charity chosen by the top year in Walpole. Profits will be donated to Versus Arthritis this year, a cause with a personal connection to two of the house’s current crop of 6as— Shanaya Kalaydjian Serraino and Saphia Hussain.

Although spending 30 minutes a day creating the carnations at evening roll call might seem a rather laborious process, to the girls it’s a valuable communal exercise that brings the whole house together.

“There’s music, we have food and we’re all there together,” Saphia explains. “And then the 6as write the messages, which is fun because you put on a film and all sit together.”

Imogen Taylor, Walpole Head of House, adds: “It’s nice because no one is on their phone so you’re all just talking for half an hour a day.

“It’s a tradition as well. You see it being done over the years and when you get to 6b and you get to deliver them – that’s the best bit because they go around in the vans to every house and deliver all of the flowers.


“6bs do the delivering and 6as write the messages out. So you sort of work your way up as you go through the years which adds a bit more excitement to it.”

The house common room looked like a flower shop last night as the girls put the finishing touches on the carnations.

Different houses have adopted traditions over the years as well. “In Harvey House, they all choose one boy at random from Galpin’s, and each of them sends him one carnation,” says Imogen. “Which is quite a nice thing to do. And one of the boys’ houses does the same back for Harvey. It’s always a nice surprise, and fun to see who they pick.

“It’s all about the community spirit. When you all enter your dorm, especially for the younger years, and you all see them on your desks – that excitement is the best.”

Read more about Boarding at King’s here.