Lampard Community School in Barnstaple is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Students, staff and guests at the new roundhouse at Lampard Community School, created by the Tanglewood Project with Lottery Awards for All funding. Picture: Tony GussinStudents, staff and guests at the new roundhouse at Lampard Community School, created by the Tanglewood Project with Lottery Awards for All funding. Picture: Tony Gussin

The special school in Newport opened its doors today (Friday) to parents and invited guests to celebrate the history of the school and the fantastic achievements of its modern students.

Formerly the Lampard-Vachell School, it opened its doors on October 21, 1968 and has always been a centre for those who have special educational needs.

It was named after Benjamin Lampard-Vachell, a stalwart of Devon’s education system who was chairman of the education committee for 17 years until his death in 1965.

Headteacher Sam Barham said throughout Friday guests and parents had been coming through the doors to see the exhibition of work, skills and talents of today’s pupils. The day was organised by Sophia Marquiss.

Planting an apple tree to mark 50 years of Lampard Community School. Pictured are chairman of governors Kevin Harris, headteacher Sam Barham, students Sam Panackel and Kirsten Martin plus Tracey Stevens (chairman) and Elaine Penfold of the Friends of Lampard School. Picture: Tony GussinPlanting an apple tree to mark 50 years of Lampard Community School. Pictured are chairman of governors Kevin Harris, headteacher Sam Barham, students Sam Panackel and Kirsten Martin plus Tracey Stevens (chairman) and Elaine Penfold of the Friends of Lampard School. Picture: Tony Gussin

Mrs Barham said: “It’s just been amazing. The students are incredibly proud and we are incredibly proud of them.

“I think today is about celebrating that everybody is different and everybody has different strengths and that’s what this exhibition is all about.”

To mark the anniversary, a traditional roundhouse in the forest school area was officially opened, created by students working under the direction of Nick Mussell of the Tanglewood Project, funded by the National Lottery Awards for All.

Students helped with every aspect from digging the foundations to cutting and shaping wood. The winners of an art competition had their designs carved into seat backs inside the house.

An apple tree was planted in the garden to complete the occasion, just as one had been at the official opening in 1968.

Mrs Barham said the school had been overwhelmed by the support from parents, past students and staff and visitors from local councils, businesses and organisations.

Mr Lampard-Vachell’s wife and daughter Marjorie attended the 1968 opening in his memory and planted the tree.

Reports from the time say the school cost £133,160 and was planned to accommodate up to 160 boys and girls aged from six to 16 – today it caters for 121 aged from five to 16.

In the early days, it even had a swimming pool, provided by the Friends of Lampard-Vachell, which continues today as Friends of Lampard and works tirelessly to raise money for school minibuses, equipment and supporting activities for students.