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'It's like saying goodbye to a family home' - Pupils given chance to say goodbye after school's sudden closure

PUBLISHED: 09:52 30 August 2019 | UPDATED: 09:52 30 August 2019

Hethersett Old Hall School. Picture: Dave Guttridge

Hethersett Old Hall School. Picture: Dave Guttridge

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Former pupils and staff of a school which announced it would not be reopening just weeks before the start of term will be given the chance to say goodbye to the place many still consider "a family home".

Stephen Crump, headmaster of Hethersett Old Hall School, which is set to become co-educational. Picture: Stephen CrumpStephen Crump, headmaster of Hethersett Old Hall School, which is set to become co-educational. Picture: Stephen Crump

Alumni and former staff of Hethersett Old Hall School will be invited to The Last Speech Day on Sunday, September 1 as a homage to the annual awards and speeches event normally held in July.

Former pupils, Vicky Owen, from Hellesdon, and Sarah Atkins, from Pulham, are behind the plans, inspired by the outpouring of reminiscence following news the company which owns the school was going into liquidation.

Ms Atkins, who was at the school between 1993 and 1999, said the idea was to give pupils the chance to say goodbye to the 94-year-old former-girls school.

She said: "The purpose is to pull people together.

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"The event is set to be incredibly emotional and we are grateful to be able to put it on.

"The closure has bought out a real outpouring from people and I think that is because it feels like a family home being sold. I think we always assumed it would be there."

The closure came as a shock to many parents with children at the school, who only found out earlier this month that it would not be reopening in September.

In a letter to parents dated August 13, headmaster Stephen Crump and chairman of governors Martin Matthews blamed declining pupil numbers and a failed turnaround plan for the financial collapse of the school.

Since the announcement, more than 800 people have joined a Facebook group, Hethersett Old Hall Former Pupils & Staff, set up by Ms Owen and Ms Atkins, to share photographs, anecdotes and even school dinner recipes from their time there. Ms Owens said: "We understand the business side is important and we are realistic about it.

"But we hope this can be an opportunity to pause and say goodbye, particularly for students who were looking forward to seeing friends in September and now will not have the chance."

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