£1.6m. extension opened at Padiham school

Fred Birch cuts the tape at the new building at St Leonard's Padiham (s)
Fred Birch cuts the tape at the new building at St Leonard's Padiham (s)

A former Padiham postman celebrated the end of 14 years as chairman of governors of St Leonards Church of England Primary School by cutting the tape to open a £1.6m. extension.

After Blackburn’s Anglican Bishop, the Rt Rev Julian Henderson, had blessed the building, Fred Birch cut the tape to open the extension which has been named after him.

Fred Birch and the Bishop at St Leonard's School Padiham (s)

Fred Birch and the Bishop at St Leonard's School Padiham (s)

“It was a tremendous honour,” said Mr Birch (75) who has been a governor at the school for 20 years and will remain in that role.

“I have seen this school grow from one which required improvement to what it is today - outstanding.”

The tape was cut in the entrance hall to the extension which includes offices, four classrooms, a meeting area and toilets. There is also parking for staff and a new landscaped approach to the school is currently being completed.

The extension is connected to the old school building by a new corridor.

The work will eventually add another 90 pupils to the 250 at present attending.

The Bishop spoke to the 250 pupils in an assembly led by the headteacher, Mrs Beverly Holmes, with the youngsters singing and the school choir performing for an audience which included Vicar of St Leonard’s the Rev Mark Jones and Mayor and Mayoress of Padiham Mr and Mrs Howard Hudson.

Mr Hudson is a former pupil at the school and said: “It is wonderful to return in such circumstances.”

After the opening ceremony, the Bishop and Mr Birch cut two celebration cakes watched by pupils on the school’s council.

The school was built in 1904 taking pupils up to 14 but switched to a primary school in the 1960s.

“At one point it went down to about 90 pupils but, as it has improved over the years to today’s outstanding standard, pupil numbers have risen,” said Mr Birch. “This extension will add considerably to the education of children - it is a tribute to the staff and the school that Lancashire County Council has invested a substantial sum in this project.”