Reunion event to mark closure of 150-year-old village school

West Raynham School has gained an outstanding Ofsted report.
PHOTO: IAN BURT
COPY:Kathryn Cross

A farewell event is being held to mark the closure of West Raynham Primary Academy - Credit: IAN BURT

An 'end of an era' event is being held to mark the closure of a beloved village school. 

West Raynham Church of England Primary Academy officially closed on Tuesday, February 22, although the building had already sat empty for several weeks before that.

A West Raynham Primary photo taken in 1987

A West Raynham Primary photo taken in 1987 - Credit: Courtesy of Bridget Howarth

The Diocese of Norwich Education and Academies Trust (DNEAT), which ran the school, said at the time that shutting permanently had been a "difficult decision". 

But it revealed that, in West Raynham, near Fakenham, the number of children on the school roll had declined to zero.

Villagers responded with sadness to news of the closure, but have come together to organise a special reunion of staff, pupils and anyone else with a connection. 

Hosting a final farewell was the brainchild of Monica Fitzjohn, who has worked closely with the academy through her work at West Raynham Village Hall. 

"The school is a piece of history and it [the closure] is such a shame," said Mrs Fitzjohn, who organised a similar event last year. 

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"The reaction from the village has been one of absolute sadness.

"Households have already been saying they miss the sound of children playing. It is just a part of village life, so it is really strange."

The 75-year-old added: "We had a small coffee morning before Christmas and heard some fabulous stories. It is just incredible listening to them.

"Anybody who went to the school or had any involvement is invited to this event. As they say, history begins yesterday."

Those who attend the farewell event - set to take place this Saturday (March 26) from 10am to 3pm - are being encouraged to bring mementos, memories and photographs from over the years. 

West Raynham School has gained an outstanding Ofsted report.
PHOTO: IAN BURT
COPY:Kathryn Cross

West Raynham School has gained an outstanding Ofsted report. PHOTO: IAN BURT COPY:Kathryn Cross FOR:DFT EDP pics © 2008 (01603)772434 - Credit: IAN BURT

There will also be opportunities to tour the empty classrooms and corridors at 11.30am and 1pm. 

Also involved in organising the reunion is Bridget Howarth, who wrote about the school's closure in the village newsletter.

She said: "It is sad. This school was a real focus for the village, but things change and now we want to celebrate it.

"This Saturday's event is an opportunity to sit and chat and reminisce, and there will be people who have not seen each other for years."