An academy has marked its tenth anniversary in style by welcoming a Royal visitor to a special celebration.

Drums played, hundreds of flags were waved and flowers were presented as HRH The Earl of Wessex arrived at Bede Academy, in Blyth.

The entire primary years turned out to greet the Earl, along with staff past and present, Blyth MP Ronnie Campbell, the Chief Constable of Northumbria and civic dignitaries.

The academy’s founding Principal Gwyneth Evans, who left last year, returned to receive the special visitor with acting head of secondary years Julie Roberts, Principal of primary years Bethan Harding and the academy’s new Principal of secondary years Andrew Thelwell on only his fourth day in the job.

Addressing His Royal Highness at a whole school assembly, Miss Evans said: “It is an honour and a privilege to have the Earl of Wessex join us for our tenth anniversary celebration. 

Looking back over the last ten years, during which time the academy has educated and nurtured 3,450 students, she added: “Since opening in 2009 Bede Academy has been developing excellence in student character, academic excellence and excellence in community service underpinned by a Christian ethos.  

“It has been an absolute privilege to see students develop confidence, grow in character, realise their potential and aspire to great things in the service of others, contributing to local, national and international communities with their talents and gifts.” 

After thanking the staff and students, The Earl of Wessex encouraged them to continue with The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, which was established by his father in 1956. 

He said: “It should be fun. It presents lots of challenges and if you can overcome those challenges it makes you a more confident person and prepares you for later life.  

“Not everything in life is laid out in a straight line; occasionally a door opens and an opportunity is presented. Have you the confidence to go through that door and go in a direction you weren’t expecting to? Life presents hurdles and you have to have the confidence and knowledge ability to overcome them; you have a good staff and team here to guide and mentor you.” 

Earlier the Earl spoke to children from Bede Academy and other local primary schools who showed him their engineering work, secondary years’ artists and musicians and current students and alumni who have been doing their Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.  

Student Joanna Swainston, 17, said: “He was lovely and seemed to genuinely care about young people.” 

Old boy Daniel Collins, who is now at Newcastle University, added: “He was very down to earth and charming. He knew about the area and seemed really interested in us.” 

The Earl went on to spend some time with local residents, who are invited into Bede Academy each term for tea and social time, and to listen to the primary choir. He was later entertained by music from the orchestra and cantata choir.

Local resident Edna Graham said: “The academy has a good connection with the Central Methodist Church in Blyth and we come quite often. They feed us and look after us very well. They have a very good music department here and children in this area who lean towards music are very lucky to have this school.”