Mixture of emotions as school’s community celebration attracts fine turnout
- Credit: Archant
A headteacher praised the community spirit as hundreds of people turned out for a special event.
Families, ex-staff, governors, former pupils and lots of children enjoyed “a real celebration” as a Great Yarmouth school held its last ever summer fete.
Celebrate Alderman Swindell was marked in style on Saturday (June 23) as the crowds gathered at Alderman Swindell Primary and Nursery School’s community fair.
The fun event was held to “honour the community that has supported us over the last 89 years” after Norfolk County Council confirmed plans to close Alderman Swindell and merge it with the nearby North Denes Primary School.
With a pop-up museum created by pupils, there were log books, registers, displays of old toys, old class photos, scrapbooks and memories of education throughout the years being showcased alongside a range of fun activities and games.
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Stalls, bouncy castles, a raffle, face painting, cakes and refreshments were all enjoyed along with visits from the emergency services, a Punch and Judy show and performances from the pupils with Yarmouth-based SeaChange Arts.
The school opened in September 1929, and among some of those who returned at the weekend was Thelma Brooks, of Gorleston, who attended the school in 1935. She said: “It is quite emotional and it really takes you back.”
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Charles Marsden attended the school in around 1945/46 and he remembered being put to bed for a nap during the school day.
With all proceeds raised at the event going to Open Christmas Great Yarmouth and East Coast Truckers. Carole Beck and Judith Hambrook, volunteers from Open Christmas, said: “Obviously the school is closing and there is a lot of sadness, but this is so kind of the school and really thoughful of them to think of us.”
Julie Watkins-Burton, of East Coast Truckers, added: “We are absolutely overjoyed with the generosity of the school in choosing our two organisations.”
The mayor of the Great Yarmouth borough, Mary Coleman, was also present at the celebration event. The mayor said: “I am honoured to have been invited along and have met some lovely people . The children are really enjoying themselves and hopefully this will provide another great memory.”
With Swindell having touched the lives of many families in the area and beyond over the past 89 years, the event was organised to honour the community.
Headteacher Alison Hopley said: “I am really, really proud. It’s sad that this will be the last summer fair, but the purpose was to allow people to come and say goodbye.
“There is a nice buzz and you can see this school is the centre of the community. This is a community celebration.
“You can see the community spirit on show here – we are a community school. It breaks my heart because I think its not just a school, its so much more than that.
“It is going to be a real loss to the community but this is a real celebration – we don’t fizzle out, we go out with a bang.”
When the plans for the merger were revealed a protest march was held, a campaign group was formed and a legal challenge was launched – but these proved unsuccessful.