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School facilities opened by proud Department member 23 April 2008

NEW facilities at Peel Clothworkers’ School were today formally opened by Department of Education Member Eddie Lowey MLC.

Mr Lowey returned ‘home’ to the city where he was born to declare open the new facilities.

The scheme, of a total value of £3.3 million, was undertaken by Auldyn Construction Ltd.

Peel Clothworkers’ School is the Island’s third largest primary school, with 359 on the register, but that number will rise with the rapid building of new housing developments in Peel.

The first phase of the new facilities, including the new dining/assembly hall, kitchen, reception/office complex, meeting room, library, special needs unit and ICT suite, became operational in June 2007. Building work on the rest of the additions, including the refurbished sports hall, staff facilities, two additional classrooms and a permanent nursery, went on until recently.

Mr Lowey said he was ‘thrilled and delighted’ to return home to open the extensions. Eddie Lowey MLC and Headteacher Judith Lund

He said:

‘There is no school on the Island that has such a pedigree and long history as yours.’

He shared memories of his childhood in Peel and said:

Peel has a proud past, a great present and an even better future beckoning because of the investments we are making today, but its real strength is in its people, especially the young people.’

The school continues a 400-year tradition linking it with townsman Philip Christian, who left Peel for London, to be apprenticed to John Garrett at the Clothworkers’ Company. When he died in 1654, he and his wife were childless and recollections of his early life in Peel led him to bequeath in his will the rent of two houses they owned in London, for the education of children in Peel. The first of many schools established in his name by the company was probably in Love Lane, below Market Place. The current school opened in 1953.

Mr Lowey said:

‘Philip Christian, who started the Clothworkers’ School some 400 years ago, knew the value of education even then, so we are following his lead. This school will flourish. These extensions and improvements will not only enable the children to expand their horizons, it will also allow the staff to work in appropriate conditions. It shows that this school is at the very heart of the community.’

Mr Lowey had as his special guests former Peel MHK and former Education Minister Hazel Hannan and his sister Mrs Barbara Ashe – who was celebrating her 70th birthday that day!

The school’s Mixed Choir, which provided the entertainment for the afternoon, sang a surprise rendition of Happy Birthday to Mrs Ashe, who received flowers.

The platform party included Education Minister Anne Craine MHK, Director of Education John Cain and Board of Education member for Peel Betty Deans, as well as Headteacher Judith Lund. Canon Nigel Godfrey, Sub-Dean at the Cathedral, Peel, carried out the dedication.

Introducing Mr Lowey, the Education Minister praised staff and pupils, who had worked around the building work, as well as the consultants and contractors on the ‘ambitious project’.

She said:

‘We can be thankful that our buoyant economy and the support of Tynwald enables us to make this level of commitment to our schools.’

The ceremony was attended by Chief Minister the Hon Tony Brown MHK, President of Tynwald the Hon Noel Cringle MLC, Speaker of the House of Keys the Hon Steve Rodan MHK, Peel MHK Tim Crookall and Chairman of Peel Town Commissioners Patricia Sweeney JP, as well as other Members of Tynwald.

Four retired headteachers and a number of former staff were invited back for the occasion.

The choir, which was accompanied by Margaret Kelly and which has been practicing hard for next week’s Manx Music Festival, also sang The Lord Bless You and Keep You and Old King Cole.

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