We’re 150 years old

MORE than �2,000 has been raised to help keep a crumbling junior school which is celebrating its 150th birthday, standing for the next 150 years.

Half of it was thanks to 16 Backwell Junior School parents who cycled more than their target of 150 miles, to mark the milestone, making it to Lyme Regis and back in two days.

Participants, aged from 34-52 years, had been training for months to get fit enough for the challenge and met back at The George pub on July 1, to make the final part of their trip to the school together, receiving a rapturous welcome from friends and family.

Organiser Richard Phillips said: “It was absolutely fantastic.

“It was great fun and everyone did extremely well, thanks to one of the team who, dismissing all forms of modern navigation technology, wrote the directions on her arm.

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“People were laughing at her at first but then stopped to look at her arm everyone time we reached a crossroads.”

As well as fundraising to help bring the ageing structure, built in 1862, up to date, the school hosted a series of special events to celebrate its anniversary.

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Children dressed in historic costumes to represent the various decades of the school’s existence and an exhibition including school records, old photographs, artefacts and memorabilia collected by staff, went on display in the original school building.

A new classroom block was officially opened by the Bishop of Taunton, Rt Revd Peter Maurice, following a birthday service lead by him and attended by pupils past and present.

School governor Jerry King said: “The bishop invited the children to call out things they wanted to give their thanks for, and their hopes.

“As they did this, he progressively blew up a balloon, with the intention of sending it to heaven representing their thoughts.

“Unfortunately, the first balloon burst, which he said must have meant they had too much to be thankful for.”

Each pupil painted a tile depicting their time at the school, helped by local ceramic artist Karen Phillips, who mounted them onto a giant collage.

The artwork, which now takes pride of place on an outside wall, was unveiled by the bishop during his visit.

A music festival, due to be the finale of the birthday celebrations and raising more funds towards the building work, had to be cancelled at the last minute due to bad weather.

However, organisers have confirmed the new date for the Backwell Festival will be September 8 at the school.

Revellers who have already bought tickets will be able to use them on this date and additional tickets are available from the school, Backwell Post Office or via www.backwellfestival.co.uk

In the last few years two new classrooms have been built and others have been refurbished.

Plans are now in place for a second phase, redeveloping the original building into small group learning spaces, office and welfare facilities.

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