School named after flying legend closes

STEVE DOWNES The name of a flying legend will live on in Norfolk - even though the school that was christened in his memory is closing for good today. The announcement was made by Lady Bader as she landed at the Douglas Bader School at RAF Coltishall yesterday for an event to mark its closure.

STEVE DOWNES

The name of a flying legend will live on in Norfolk - even though the school that was christened in his memory is closing for good today.

The announcement was made by Lady Bader as she landed at the Douglas Bader School at RAF Coltishall yesterday for an event to mark its closure.

Sir Douglas Bader's widow said the Bader Foundation had given permission for the pupil referral unit and base that is taking over the school site to continue to use her late husband's name.

The exact name of the unit has not yet been confirmed, but the announcement continues the strong links between Norfolk and Sir Douglas, who was the commander of 242 (Canadian) Squadron at RAF Coltishall in 1940.

He lost both his legs below the knee in an air crash in 1931, but returned to the air before being in a mid-air collision with a Luftwaffe ME 109 in 1941. He parachuted over enemy territory and spent the rest of the war trying to escape.

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The school, which was named after the legendary airman when it changed to primary status in 2000, has no future because of the closure of the airbase at the end of the year.

Lady Bader was at the school with Coltishall's final station commander Wing Cdr Paul Robins, Norfolk County Council chairman Patrick Hacon and Fred Corbett, the council's deputy director of children's services.

They heard the children sing, saw a school council presentation and were given a guided tour of an exhibition of memorabilia.

Today, bagpipes and drums will be played, and the 51 pupils will march out of the school gates to bring down the curtain on the school.

Headteacher Lin Wakeford said: "Pupils, parents and staff are determined to go out on a high.

"They are a wonderful group of children and everyone, including parents, staff and governors, has worked really hard to make this final year one to remember for all the right reasons."