School marks 40th birthday


SAMBA music and a display of art inspired by the theme of “home” formed part of a celebration event to mark the 40th anniversary of a Tynedale school.

The Rev. Dean T.P. Kerrigan laid the foundation stone at St Joseph’s Middle School in 1974, with the building officially opened two years later.

But only when staff hunted for the original plans for the building, on Highford Lane in Hexham, did they discover it was originally going to be known as St Mary’s Middle School.

“It was a surprise to us but they obviously decided St Joseph’s, to go along with St Mary’s First School, was a better fit,” said headteacher, Fiona Conley.

“The foundation stone in the entrance was actually laid on St Joseph’s Day, the 19th of March, so it worked very well in the end.”

The documents indicate that the kitchens, which now sit on the ground floor, were originally planned to go on the first floor with lunch delivered to each classroom.

Decades-old class photographs, staff lists and even well-worn ties were among the items on display at a special open event after an appeal was sent out to former staff and pupils.

“We placed an advert in the Courant asking for people with any memorabilia to get in touch, and we had quite a good response,” said Mrs Conley.

A “living history” has also been recorded as part of the 40th anniversary celebrations, which included video interviews with two former members of staff.

Former headteacher of 19 years, Alan Hodgson, and the school’s longest-serving female teacher, Rebecca Garraghan, who retired last summer after 35 years, shared their memories.

“We’ve done something every term this academic year to mark the anniversary which has involved the whole school and wider community.”

The autumn term was rounded off with a special birthday cake, the spring term included a special St Joseph’s liturgy service and the open afternoon – part of the school’s art week – marked the end of summer term.

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