125th birthday

George and Zak rang the school bell in the morning just like it would have been sounded 125 years ago on the 12th November 1994. And so began the school’s CXXV anniversary.

For weeks preparations have been made for the special assembly. Teachers, LSAs and the cleaning team made sure the infant and junior halls looked magnificent. Mrs Shuter made a superb birthday cake; and she and her team prepared a High Tea fit for a Queen – well actually for her Deputy Lieutenant! Mrs. Sancassani had made sure that all the VIPs had been invited and RSVP’d. Many other staff helped out throughout the day too. What a team we have at North. Artists Lisa Temple Cox and Nicola Burrell delivered their presents and Laura Davison wrapped them.

1.50 pm arrived. Guests were escorted into the Infant Hall by our Y6 councillors. Guests from the past, the present, the great and the good, travelling from near and far – which is further away from Colchester – Heraklion or Helsinki! And it was time to begin. The children stood to attention as Kacper led in the Queen’s representative, The Deputy Lieutenant. Ellie chaperoned the Mayor and Mayoress. Jessica led in Sir Bob, the High Steward of Colchester and Audrey, Lady Russell.

Once all the VIPs were in position (observing all etiquette and pageantry) everyone was seated and so we began. The children sat for an hour listening to speeches. The words of the first Head, John Harper and the sixth Head, Roger Kettle were read by Jessica and Zakir to remind us all of what makes North special. And then the Mayor unwrapped Nicola’s present and Sir Bob Russell unwrapped Lisa’s. The ribbons were cut and the children gasped as two beautiful works of art were revealed. These will be on display at the Birthday Party. Next came in the birthday cake, ready to be cut by the oldest pupil, Harvey, and the youngest, Poppy. There was one more surprise. The oldest living pupil had recorded a video message for us all. Margaret Gilbert, wished the school a happy birthday. Margaret is 104! Happy Birthday was sung by all and then the choir sang a joyful song not only in English but in Finnish and sign language too. It was so moving.

The school’s eighth headteacher, Alan Garnett, said he was looking forward to being invited back to the 150th anniversary in 2044 and the children sang their way back to class.

Listen to the recording of the birthday assembly.

The Guests enjoyed their tea party and wrote some wonderful comments in the visitors book.

Simon Halls, MBE,  Deputy Lieutenant of Essex, said in his speech:

‘There are not many primary schools that have such a proud and long history. You are rightly proud of your history and it should be celebrated. We should, however, not just celebrate that longevity and continuity, but should also celebrate all the governors, teachers, support staff, parents and pupils that have worked here, attended the school, supported its development and built its history. I am delighted to learn of your exploration of that history and all the archival material available. I congratulate you all on this very special day.’ 

Comments in the Visitors Book:

‘What a wonderful celebration of 125 years; I thoroughly enjoyed the happiness of all concerned, especially the pupils. There is something precious about this school. ‘ John Jowers, Chair, Essex County Council

‘I am really grateful to North Primary School and to the amazing people who work here. I am impressed by the strong sense of community and com- mitment that can be literally breathed in the school. It was a real pleasure to be part of this wonderful celebration. It was so inspiring.’ Maria Chiara, Italy

‘It has been a wonderful afternoon, and as always the children were a credit to the school. It has been great to catch up with many old friends, it does not seem like 25 years since the last celebrations. I have been proud to be Chair of Governors at this amazing school for the past 20 years. Wonderful staff and great children.’ Jan Blackwell, Chair of Governor