An academy has marked the end of an era with a final presentation day and end of year celebration for its departing principal.
Gwyneth Evans was the founding principal of Bede Academy, in Blyth, developing it and recruiting staff prior to its opening in 2009 and going on to lead the education of more than 3,340 students.
She will leave at the end of term to return to her family in her native Northern Ireland and a new headship at Cookstown High School.
Miss Evans was honoured at Bede’s annual prizegiving when chairman of the academy board Nigel Robson described her as “extraordinary”.
He said: “She has steadfastly promoted and upheld the ethos of Bede. Under her leadership results have been delivered that, at the beginning, we could only have dreamt of. The impact on this community is immeasurable.
“She has led very clearly from the front and has never asked of anyone more than she herself has been willing to give many times over.”
Mr Robson added that Miss Evans’s headship was characterised by high standards, no excuses, no unnecessary compromises and sacrificial achievement.
The presentation day celebrated the achievements of staff and students with awards given in the areas of academic, community, sport and character, together with the House Cup, won this year by Cuthbert house.
The most prestigious awards were given for all-round performance and character. The Outstanding Academic Achievement award went to Jake Watson, a regular in academy productions who displayed outstanding motivation his GCSEs and gained the highest grades in A-Level trial exams, “a natural leader and a fine role model”.
The Founders Award for Outstanding Student of the Year went to Samantha North, a ten-year-old student in Year 5 who was recognised for her courage and smiles in facing challenges.
Miss Evans has left a legacy in the inaugural presentation of the Evans Award, which went to Sana Tahir, a student who represents the core values of the academy in everything she does, is “admired and loved by all around her”, “humble in her achievements and devoted to others”. Sana has played a significant role helping in the academy library and in supporting five children who came to Bede after escaping conflict in Syria.
Speaker at the event, Colonel Peter McCall, also experienced conflict serving as an officer with the Royal Logistics Corp in Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Afghanistan and most recently leading the British military operation to fight Ebola in Sierra Leone.
Now Police and Crime Commissioner for Cumbria Constabulary, Col McCall said: “This is a truly vibrant and forward-leaning environment and school, and it’s incredibly impressive.”
He told the students: “I truly believe that everyone has something to give and if you are prepared to work hard and to commit you all have a role to play. Every single person in this room can make a difference for good.
“You are blessed with the sort of school which has traditional values and standards that will build a great future for you. You should be optimistic about the future and when I look at you I am encouraged.”
With the theme “In Everything Give Thanks”, Presentation Day was hosted by head girl Georgina Woods and head boy Jacob Glendinning with Joe Beall and Esra Aydeniz.
Entertainment was provided by the academy orchestra, The Primary Beat drummers, Bede South Choir, the Cantata Choir and Jake Watson, who sang a preview of next year’s academy production of Evita.