Forward march!

PUPILS at Halyrude RC primary in Peebles this week bade a farewell to their old school – and then walked to their new, refurbished and much more spacious home just 300 yards away.

Their procession, led by Peebles Silver Band on a gloriously sunny morning, was a symbol of change and a bright future.

It marked the closure of the school in Old Church Road and the opening of the £2.1million facility on the site of the former Kingsland Primary in Rosetta Road.

The 90 Halyrude youngsters, returning from their Easter break were counted in and counted out by their head teacher Jim FitzGerald who welcomed a large turnout of parents and guests.

“We have gathered here to mark the closure of this building in its use as a school which began in 1858,” said Mr FitzGerald. “It has served us well, but is showing signs of age and no longer meets the standards required.

“While we are about to leave this old building, we take with us our memories of the people we met and knew here, the people we worked and played with, the days of sunshine or rain, of snow and cold.”

The procession stopped at the Cross Kirk to remember and highlight the connection that had always existed between the school and the significant religious site.

Leading the pupils was Mhairi Davidson (P7) who carried the new school candle. Kieran Landers and Caitlin Murray (both P6) who carried the Halyrude school crest and Danielle Futers (P7) who bore a copy of the restored mural which was presented to the school by Cardinal Keith Patrick O’Brien in 1999.

Along the way, three panels were added to the candle. Jenna McRoberts (P2) attached a picture of the Cross Kirk, Jamie Gray (P1) appended one of the parish church and Marcus McMillan (P2) added one of the new building.

Father Robert Machingua, the parish priest and school chaplain, then lit the candle and offered a prayer and blessing.

The mural will take pride of place on display in the new school, a grade B listed building which was vacated last year when Kingsland moved to its new site at Neidpath Grazings.

The new Halyrude has six classrooms, general purpose/learning support rooms, new heating and electrical systems, double glazing and disabled access plus provision to support children with additional needs.

On arrival, Mr FitzGerald said: “Well, here we are, in front of this magnificent building that from today becomes our new school. On November 8 last year, we came along to hand the keys to the builders, so that they could set about transforming the inside of this magnificent building into a facility that truly is a school for the 21st century.

“That was just over 20 weeks ago. I am sure that when you see what has been achieved inside, you will agree that the transformation is quite simply stunning.

“Thank you all for being a part of our journey and story, not just this morning, but throughout the planning and building process. It has been a process characterised by marvellous teamwork and a real spirit of co-operation.”

Councillor George Turnbull, Scottish Borders Council’s executive member for education, said: “This building holds a lot of memories for many thousands of people who have been educated here and I am sure many more memories will be made among these young people and for many more youngsters into the future.”

A ribbon was then cut by Chris Forsyth (P5) before pupils and staff entered the building which will be officially opened by Cardinal O’Brien on September 14.

The school will be open to the public on Sunday, May 8, from 11am till 12.30pm.