A SUNDERLAND school met with Royal approval as it celebrated scooping a hat-trick of awards.
Highfield Community Primary, in Fordfield Road, was presented with the accolades by Kate Middleton at a prestigious ceremony held at Kensington Palace, London.
The first Place2Be Wellbeing in Schools awards saw the Ford Estate school lift the School Community Award, which includes a £10,000 prize.
Headteacher Simon Marshall received the School Leader Award while 11-year-old pupil Bailey Dunne took home the Child/Young Person award for his mentoring work.
Lucy Atkinson, deputy headteacher of Highfield, met the duchess as she was given the top title, and said: “We’re still a little bit overwhelmed by the experience, but really proud of what the school’s done for the mental health and wellbeing of the children and families.
“We’re also very proud of Bailey, it’s a huge event for him to experience.”
Bailey was accompanied by his mum Christine Brogan.
The school has worked alongside Place2Be for three years, and credits the sessions with helping to improve attendance and behaviour, as it gives pupils a chance to talk and work through their problems and fears, allowing them to concentrate on their work.
A total of six awards were launched as part of the ceremony, with Hermione Alvey, from Horden, given the Parent of Carers Champion Award, while her daughter Georgia, 11, was a finalist for her work in helping other children benefit from the charity’s support services.
Place2Be works with more than 90,000 children in 230 primary and secondary schools, often in some of the most deprived areas of the UK, helping them deal with issues such as bullying, bereavement and family breakdown.
The duchess reaffirmed her pledge to improve mental health across schools in the UK as she hosted the awards ceremony at her west London home, inviting 170 school staff, volunteers, pupils and supporters into the state apartments of Kensington Palace.
She is a patron of the charity, which is marking its 20th anniversary.
Georgia, who now attends Dene Community School in Peterlee, said: “I was going through a difficult time and someone suggested Place2Be.
“Their help was really important to me.
“We’ve now made a DVD about it, and taken it into other schools.
“I met Kate – she’s so beautiful.”
Amy Marshall, deputy headteacher of Cotsford Juniors, attended the event with the winners alongside the school’s project manager Emma Spuhler and parent counsellor Alison Ross.
Mrs Marshall said: “It was an unbelievable experience, one that none of us will forget being in the same room as the Duchess of Cambridge.
“It was really emotional to see the children and schools being recognised.
“We couldn’t function without Place2Be.
“It’s an integral part of what we do, and we truly believe if our children are not emotionally well, they can’t learn and what Place2Be do is amazing.”