A goodbye celebration marked the end of a 30-year era for a popular rural school.
Nearly 300 staff, parents and pupils, both past and present, turned out to say a fond farewell to Rock Hall School, near Alnwick, in Northumberland.
As previously reported in The Journal, rising costs and falling pupil numbers forced governors and the two headteachers to announce the school would close at the end of the summer term.
But the decision was made to go out with a bang and a huge celebration of the school’s remarkable history took place on Saturday night.
Live music, a magician, a hog roast and a performance of Deep in the Jungle by the current pupils marked the occasion.
Guests relived fond memories as they browsed old photos and toured the school’s building and grounds for the last time.
But it was also an emotional night for many, particularly co-headteacher Lalage Bosanquet, who started the school with just three pupils in her garden shed three decades ago.
Mrs Bosanquet said: “The school has been here for nearly 30 years and it was a truly great celebration, which marked the end of an era.
“There were nearly 300 people, both past and present pupils and parents, at the event and I was very touched to see how much to see how much the school means to so many.”
Staff and pupils thanked Mrs Bosanquet, and her co-heachteacher Avril Lomas, and presented her with a bench in her name, which will sit in the school’s ground.
Rock Hall, which taught children between the ages of nursery and 11, was the last remaining independent school between Newcastle and Berwick.
The school was first threatened with closure at the end of the summer term 2012, with 50 children forced to find another school for the beginning of the next academic year.
But parents launched the Save Our School in Six Weeks campaign and worked hard to bring new pupils to the school.
For a year it looked like the campaign may have worked, but the continuing decline in pupil numbers and rising costs finally forced it to close and making 15 staff members redundant.
The school, which has taught hundreds of children, was started by Mrs Bosanquet in a converted garden shed in 1984 with initially only three pupils, one of which was own son.
The nursery quickly grew and by 1988 it had expanded into the former house of Mrs Bosanquet’s mother-in-law.
By 1992, it was bursting at the seams and was forced to move into a former youth hostel and manor house in Rock village, changing its name from Rock Moor to Rock Hall. Initially the school taught children up to 13, but that changed to 11 tin 2011.