Video: Swaffham school marks 100 years

Sacred Heart School in Swaffham celebrates its 100th anniversary. Picture: Matthew Usher. Sacred Heart School in Swaffham celebrates its 100th anniversary. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Thursday, January 23, 2014
5:18 PM

A school which was set up by three nuns 100 years ago is proving it is moving with the times as it celebrates its centenary year.

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Sacred Heart Convent School in Swaffham was established after the Daughters of Divine Charity arrived in the market town from Austria in June 1914.

The Sisters had been invited by Swaffham’s French priest, Fr Vende, to set up the school - but as their arrival coincided with the outbreak of the First World War, they were met with suspicion and distrust, with some suspecting they were spies.

Nevertheless, their school managed to flourish and at its peak, the school had 370 pupils.

Now, with just over 100 pupils, both boys and girls ranging in age from three to 16, the school is marking its 100th year by producing a book of its 
history.

It will be the school’s second book after one was published for its 75th anniversary and school staff are urging past students, teachers and parents to contribute to the title which is due to be published this spring, ahead of their celebratory weekend in June.

Headteacher Sister Francis Ridler, who has been at the school since 1969 and headteacher since 1979, said: “We just want their anecdotes. “The last 25 years have been easy to pull together but it would be nice to have other people’s memories.

“There have been many changes over the years. It started with seven foreign students and now we have just over 100 from within a 15-mile radius of Swaffham.

“Our curriculum is as broad as it can go and our first cohort of boys went through the senior school two years ago with the third group this year.”

As part of its 100th anniversary celebrations, the school is inviting staff, parents and pupils past and present to three days of activities from June 27 
to 29.

The three days will include a range of activities including food demonstrations, dancing, football through the ages, music and fashion shows.

Sister Francis said: “The sisters put a lot of time and effort into the school and we now have two young postulants which is a sign of hope for running the school for the future.

“Education is changing and we are looking at going down the iPad route. We have to keep up with modern technology and modern thought.”

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