Ex-pupils and staff reunite at former village school

Chief inspector Keith Philpot with some of the organisers of the event at the former Hethersett Old Hall School.

Chief inspector Keith Philpot with some of the organisers of the event at the former Hethersett Old Hall School. - Credit: Peter Steward

Former pupils and staff of an historic Norfolk school returned to the classroom for one day only.

A picnic took place at Hethersett Old Hall School to cement a partnership between the past and the future of the site.

More than 100 people enjoyed a tour of the former school, which is now a training centre for Norfolk Police.

Police and former pupils have been working together since the school’s sudden shock closure in 2019 to ensure the history of the buildings and its people are remembered.

It was a special and poignant day for former principal Victoria Redington, who has had a classroom in the new training centre named after her.

Victoria Redington unveils a plaque naming one of the classrooms after her

Victoria Redington unveils a plaque naming one of the classrooms after her. - Credit: Peter Steward

Other classrooms will be named after the Wulugu Project, which works in North Ghana to tackle poverty through education. The project had a close relationship with the school through former teacher and Wulugu founder Lynne Symonds.

“In the past 12 months we have got clean water to 350,000 people at a cost of just 40p per person. We hope very shortly to be able to go back to building schools,” she said.

Lynne Symonds of the Wulugu Project

Lynne Symonds of the Wulugu Project. - Credit: Peter Steward

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A third classroom will be named after former Norfolk chief constable Ken Williams, who oversaw the building of the police headquarters at Wymondham.

“We hope that we make you proud in years to come by continuing the legacy left by the school. Hopefully we will show you that the buildings are in good hands,” chief inspector Keith Philpot from Norfolk Police, who has been overseeing the changes, said.

Joint organiser Vicky Owen said: “It was extremely sad that the school had to close but it is great to think that it will be used to train and educate others to serve our country."

Mei Lin Layton who was a pupil at the school from 1981 to 1992.

Mei Lin Layton who was a pupil at the school from 1981 to 1992 with a photograph of herself and other girls with former principal Victoria Redington. - Credit: Peter Steward

Books and art materials left at the school have been donated to 42 different schools in the county with two complete school libraries being set up.

“Much work still has to be done on the site, but it is already giving training to up to 100 police officers every day. I hope we do you proud in years to come. We want to continue your legacy,” chief inspector Philpot added.

An example of the artwork by pupils still at the centre.

An example of the artwork by pupils still at the centre. - Credit: Peter Steward


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