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Special assembly marks emotional farewell for students as school begins countdown to closure

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There was laughter and tears as pupils gathered for their final assembly before leaving their school for good.

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Staff, students, and parent campaigners who fought to keep Hameldon Community College open gather around Lee Bradshaw (centre left) and Ian Walker who donated 400 to the students' last day trip.

Staff, students, and parent campaigners who fought to keep Hameldon Community College open gather around Lee Bradshaw (centre left) and Ian Walker who donated 400 to the students' last day trip.

It was the final time students from years seven, eight and nine at Burnley's Hameldon Community College were together. For their school is set to close by August, 2019.

They will all be starting at new schools in the autumn term.

Staff gave the students a send off to remember in a special merit assembly where certificates and prizes were handed out for a range of subjects.

And headteacher Mr Peter Tolson wished the students well for the future.

He said: "Go forward from here with what you have learned and be successful and happy in the future, it is yours for the taking and I have no doubt you will all go on to do well."

Among the specially invited guests were parents, Sarah Ingham and Mary Fleming, who led a hard fought campaign to keep the school open.

Sarah said: "The leavers assembly was both heartwarming and heartbreaking.

"Seeing all the pictures and watching the students' reactions you can clearly see that they have formed some strong friendships while being students of Hameldon.

"It breaks my heart knowing that some of those friends may never see each other again and some of the teachers now have no job.

"Each and every person has been affected in one way or another and that has had a knock on effect on the people around them.

" It's more than just a school closing."

Dozens of well wishers made donations to the school to fund a trip to Blackpool Pleasure Beach but it looked in doubt when it was still £400 short with just days to go.

Burnley based property developer Ian Walker and his business partner, Lee Bradshaw, who owns Burnley Auctioneers, stepped in and saved the day, literally, with a £400 donation.

The students made the kind hearted duo thank you cards signed by all them all with little descriptions of what the day out meant to them.

Ian said: "We wanted to help when we heard that the trip may not go ahead so we didn't hesitate to offer the donation.

"And seeing how much it has meant to the children today means a lot to us."

Lee added: "We both have children at high school and if their school closed it would be devastating."

Lancashire County Council announced in May that it would close the school permanently citing educational standards, the school’s financial deficit and the falling pupil numbers as the reasons why.

Hameldon opened in September, 2006, as part of Burnley's multi-million pound Building Schools for the Future programme, but was beset with difficulties from the outset.

Poor OFSTED reports, resulting in the school at one point being placed in Special Measures, contributed to a drop in pupil numbers over recent years. The opening of the privately-run Burnley High School also placed extra pressure on Hameldon's long-term future.

When news was announced of the proposed closure a consultation period was held with many people showing support for the school.

Despite this the county council announced it would close.