A new state-of-the-art sports pitch has been kicked off in style.
Entrepreneur Sir John Hall and Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery were among the special guests at the annual Founders’ and Benefactors’ Day at the Northumberland Church of England Academy in Ashington.
And while there, they officially opened the new floodlit 4G pitch, which will be open to the community, and enjoyed a kick-around with pupils.
The day also included performances from school choirs, a demonstration from the flourishing Combined Cadet Force (CCF), music from the cadet pipes and drums band, while Lieutenant General Robin Brims, who led the British invasion of Iraq, also returned to the school to carry out the biennial inspection of the CCF.
Sir John, who grew up in nearby North Seaton, praised the school for its investment in extra-curricular enrichment activities.
The former Newcastle United chairman and property developer who masterminded the MetroCentre, said: “The new facilities, the sports facility, the army cadets, the choirs and the singing, I am totally enthralled by what has been achieved on the doorstep of my home village.”
He told pupils: “You just have to believe in yourself and have that inner belief and absolute confidence in your own ability.
“If you don’t believe in yourself, you will never make those strides to advance in life.
“You have something that is special to you and you develop that talent as much as you can.”
Mr Lavery added: “It is fantastic what is being achieved here.
“These are the kind of facilities that the people of South East Northumberland deserve.”
Rt Revd Christine Hardman, Bishop of Newcastle, and The Duke of Northumberland, also attended.
Academy executive director, Andrew Day, said: “We believe that investing in wider enrichment activities for our young people is vital to help them become the best that they can be.
“We are very proud of all that our students have achieved over the last year.”