Bumper crowds turn out to pay emotional final farewell to Sunderland High School

3
Have your say

School's out forever - but pupils past and present turned out in force today to ensure an historic Wearside institution will never be forgotten.

Scores of staff, parents, children and former learners at Sunderland High School got together for a day of tears and tributes as they paid a final farewell to decades of memories.

Scores of well-wishers turned as Sunderland High School prepared for closure on a high note.

Scores of well-wishers turned as Sunderland High School prepared for closure on a high note.

Celebration was mixed with sadness during a day of activities to mark the impending closure of a school at the heart of the community for more than a century.

Staff and students alike were left reeling in January when the bombshell announcement was made that the school was to close its doors.


Despite a hugely successful academic record, United Church Schools Trust, which owns Sunderland High School, blamed the decision to close on plummeting pupil numbers, from 580 to less than 290 in 10 years.

To celebrate the life of the school it opened its doors to the community today for one last time.

Tears and tributes were in  full flow at a celebrating party marking the closure of Sunderland High School.

Tears and tributes were in full flow at a celebrating party marking the closure of Sunderland High School.

There was a Valedictory Church Service at St Ignatius Church, Hendon, and an open house at the Mowbray Road buildings.

A celebration party was held at Tonstall House, the junior school site, where visitors enjoyed a hog roast, bouncy castle, face painting, a magician and circus skills.

The school was founded in 1884 and former scholars include television journalist, Kate Adie, the late Denise Robertson, and the only person in Sunderland to earn a Victoria Cross, George Maling.

Mai Brannigan, marketing officer at the school who helped to organise the goodbye bonanza, said; "The closure is really sad.

Cupcakes bearing the high school emblem were on display at a celebration event.

Cupcakes bearing the high school emblem were on display at a celebration event.

"It was very important for pupils past and present to be given the chance to say goodbye to the school."

Max Hodgson, 13, who was attended the school since the tender age of two, is sad to be leaving behind his classmates and teachers for the final time.

He will be heading off to Durham School next term - armed with the skills and knowledge passed onto him by dedicated Sunderland High School staff.

Max said: "I am really sad to be leaving. I have really enjoyed my time at the school and the help I have received from all of the teachers.

Bumper crowds were wowed by an acrobatic display during a day of entertainment.

Bumper crowds were wowed by an acrobatic display during a day of entertainment.

"Our last week has been memorable with trips to Souter Lighthouse, Hartlepool Quay and Holy Island.

Dad Colin Hodgson says he is struggling to come to terms with the school's shock closure.

But he says the school's legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of the scores of pupils it has given a vita start in life.

He said: "I am very sad about the closure, it is devastating.

"We have done everything we could to keep the school open but we just didn't have enough time.

"It came as a real bombshell.

Acrobat Obi Ninja with Jack Blyth

Acrobat Obi Ninja with Jack Blyth

"All of the teaching staff will be a big miss, but the two who made the most impact with me were Dr Angela Slater and Clive Bulmer.

"In a way, the school will never close as it will always stay with the children.

The Williams family enjoy a picnic at Sunderland High School's junior site.

The Williams family enjoy a picnic at Sunderland High School's junior site.