A royal visitor flew in to officially open the finished Chulmleigh Community College buildings.
Students, staff and guests gathered yesterday (Tuesday) to welcome HRH Prince Richard, the Duke of Gloucester.
The duke was given a tour of the new buildings, part of a £6million transformation that ended last year with completion of phase three of the works.
He then unveiled a granite stone plaque commemorating the official opening, and was presented with a piece of mixed media artwork by Year 10 pupil Florence Job, which represents the school crest and Chulmleigh’s Royal Town Charter, granted by King Henry III in 1253.
A posy was presented by Chulmleigh Primary School pupils Ophelia Solity and Harvey Snell.
Guests in attendance included the High Sheriff of Devon Grania Phillips, North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones, plus the chairmen of Devon County Council and North Devon Council, Caroline Chugg and John Moore, NDC chief executive Mike Mansell and the Chulmleigh Parish Council chairman.
Pupils from the whole Chulmleigh Academy Trust were represented, including Chulmleigh Primary School, Lapford Primary School and East Worlington Primary School, with more than 900 pupils and guests in attendance.
It was the first royal visit to the area since the Queen visited Eggesford in 1956 and marked the end of a long campaign by the school and community for new school facilities.
The original Chulmleigh Secondary Modern School was built in 1938 and over the years, several temporary buildings were added, so by 2004 almost three quarters of the school was made up of ‘temporary’ buildings - some more than 50 years old.
Executive headteacher Michael Johnson said, “We are very proud of what we have achieved together; a brand new school built on budget and on time.
“The draughty old temporary wooden huts which were, at the time, described as ‘not fit for chickens’ have all been replaced with a purpose built school, giving pupils and staff the best environment possible and excellent value for taxpayers. “For the last four years, the college’s GCSE results have been amongst the best in the region, further raising ambition and expectations and providing a solid context for our success story.”