Santa makes early Christmas visit to Sunderland special school
Youngsters at a Wearside school got to tell Santa Claus exactly what they want in their Christmas stockings this year after he paid them a special visit.
Students at Barbara Priestman Academy met Father Christmas courtesy of the construction team building Sunderland’s new bridge.
All of the academy’s 130 pupils received an educational gift thanks to support from Farrans Construction, which is building the New Wear Crossing in the city, and Atkins, which is supervising the project on behalf of Sunderland City Council.
They sponsored the Santa treat by way of a thank you after students at the school visited the construction site earlier this year to present the bridge team with a series of artworks.
The project team was so touched by the students’ creative efforts, they have continued to work with the school and offered to help out with some festive fun.
The academy is a school for children aged between 11 and 19 with Autistic Spectrum Disorder and/or complex learning difficulties.
Denise Murray, deputy headteacher at the school, said: “It’s been a truly magical event and a dream come true for many of our students.
“For the younger children in the school, they have really been able to share in the magic of Christmas with their friends and enjoy the excitement of the festive season.
“Students have been able to visit Santa in his grotto, but then Santa actually visited some of the students in their classrooms too.
“It’s been wonderful to see their faces light up.”
Farran’s community engagement manager Brigid McGuigan dressed up as Mrs Claus for the day and assisted Santa in distributing gifts.
She said: “Barbara Priestman Academy is a wonderful school, doing great things for their students, so it’s been lovely for us to develop a relationship with them over the year.
“We wanted to help bring a bit of Christmas spirit to the school.
“It’s been a joy to see the pleasure on students faces. I think it’s been a wonderful experience for us all.”
The New Wear Crossing is on track to open in the spring of 2018. It will span the River Wear between Wessington Way in Castletown and European Way in Pallion.
It is the first bridge to be built over the Wear in Sunderland for more than 40 years and is part of the wider strategic transport plan to link the Port of Sunderland and city centre with the A19.