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Sports facility gets royal seal

PUBLISHED: 18:18 07 February 2008 | UPDATED: 10:24 03 July 2010

ROYAL VISIT: The Princess during her visit to John Grant School

ROYAL VISIT: The Princess during her visit to John Grant School

Alan Thompson

IT was a day the pupils at John Grant Special School in Caister won't forget, when the Princess Royal officially opened their new sports facility on Wednesday.

IT was a day the pupils at John Grant Special School in Caister won't forget, when the Princess Royal officially opened their new sports facility on Wednesday.

Princess Anne arrived by helicopter on the school field at 10.45am in bright sunshine and was greeted by headteacher Gerald Hampson, the Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk Richard Jewson and dignitaries from across the county amid children from the school waving Union Jack flags. Also in attendance was Yarmouth MP Tony Wright and mayor Paul Garrod.

The school opened in 1977 and caters for pupils aged between three and 19 with learning difficulties from as far as Lowestoft and Trimingham.

The princess had an hour-long visit during which she was shown around the school and the fully equipped Trevor Wood Sports Centre, chatting to staff and pupils as she went. She unveiled a plaque to officially open the centre and praised the efforts of all those involved in raising the £750,000 to build and equip it.

She unveiled the plaque in the presence of Mr Wood, former chairman of governors.

She said: “My congratulations to everyone involved in raising the money. It is no mean achievement. I am sure this sports facility will be appreciated in the years to come.”

Chairman of the governors Sue Humphrey had a son at the school for 16 years. She said: “We now have a dedicated facility that will put the youngsters on the same level as mainstream schools.”

Secretary of the Friends of John Grant School Desne Clarke said: “This gives everyone a terrific morale boost. It's a big thank-you to everyone who has supported the school and for raising the funds that were needed to build the sports centre. There has been a tremendous community spirit and I know the children were excited to see Princess Anne but they were also excited to see the helicopter land in our field!”

The English Bowling Association in Yarmouth has been a supporter of the school for a number of years. Committee member Dennis Grint said: “It is very gratifying to see this sports centre become a reality.”

Mr Hampson said: “It's taken four or five years to raise the £750,000 that was required. I can't praise the people enough who have raised the money.”

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