Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Topping out in Old Buckenham

Up on the roof
Today was another milestone in the construction of Chapel Green School. Topping out is a traditional ceremony carried out once a new building has its roof on.
A select few were allowed on to a very windy roof where some sparkly water was poured and a 'tree' was planted. The tree was brought down to ground level again so that all the guests could see it, cover it and themselves in silvery sprinkles, and then settle into the Memorial Room at the Village Hall to see a video recording of the earlier events on the roof. Also to enjoy a drink and some lovely refreshments.
Here are a few photos to give an idea of what went on and also a slightly edited version of the main speech given by Terry Hickman Smith, Chair of Governors, Chapel Road School.

This is a most significant moment. Our new school has been a long time coming but now we have just been on the roof of this wonderful new building. The building process is now over halfway through and we are looking forward with great anticipation to the final move to Old Buckenham.
This point in our 30 year journey owes much to some very significant people. I will try to mention everyone who has been significant in the progress from ideas to reality.
Initially I would like to thank Robert Ashton, whose idea to look at the potential for this site followed by the initial negotiations, took the project from a desperate wish to the actual building.
Then a massive thank you to John Alston, who is sadly no longer with us, who donated the site, and then to Milo O’Sullivan who made that gift a reality.
There are then so many people who have had a greater or smaller, but significant role to date. The Government with their funding for a part of the project. The Local Authority who have worked so hard with us to make the new school the building it will be. Here we thank Chris Hey, Head of Place Planning and Organisation in Children’s Services, and Isabel Horner, a part of the same team. There are many others at County Hall who have played their part too as have our local councillors, Alec Byrne, Jo Mooney and Stephen Askew. Our local MP, George Freeman, has constantly been on our case.
Then there is the Design Team from NPS Property Consultants. There have been many different members of the team from the time the design first started but those who have so magnificently completed the project include Richard Pollard, the Head of Project Management and Andy Snape, their project Manager who runs the project on a day to day basis, James Montgomery, the Lead Architect, Carla Lurcock the person who has resolved all the architectural details, the Mechanical and Electrical Engineers led by David Buxton and worked at in detail by Ben Hallett and many others. The NPS team includes structural engineers, quantity surveyors, technicians and many, many more. The Furniture and Fittings team, with Emma Pank and Gary Underhill, have been an enormous part of how the building will work and have been of great help to us. John Ames, the archaeologist has also had an important part to play. Thank you to the whole team of players who have brought the building design to fruition.
More recently the building contractors have moved the construction process on with incredibly rapid and accurate speed. Morgan Sindall have been a revelation. With courteous efficiency they have taken the construction procedures to amazing heights – including completing part of the roof ready for today. Especial thanks today to John Stedman who is in overall charge of the building construction project, to Dan Rush, the calm and efficient site manager, Tom Grant and their team and to Helen Clements who liaises with us on behalf of Morgan Sindall. There are far too many people to name but what an efficient unit.
The school staff has had to carry on teaching in their incredible and wonderful way through all of this. They have had their hopes for a new school raised and dashed so many times over such a long time that they are finding it difficult to actually believe that it is happening. Today makes the dream an absolute reality. The staff have worked tirelessly with the pupils to ensure the best possible education for them in the difficult circumstances of a building totally unfit for purpose. Soon those difficulties will be behind them and new challenges will emerge. A massive thank you to all the staff, represented here today by Julie, Claire who set up today and many others. A big thank you to the pupils too, and their parents, who have come on this journey.
Our Governors, present and past, have been so supportive of the project and have helped, not only to move the project forward but have kept a watchful eye on the teaching and learning within the school and the well-being of staff and pupils. The Friends of Chapel Road School have really played their part too.
Also a thank you to the staff and pupils of Old Buckenham High school and the Primary school who have been a part of the planning for the move and who will play an important role in the future of education of all pupils in the schools over the coming years. The village community too has been wonderfully supportive since the site here was identified. We look forward to working with the whole community.
But most of all I wish to say a massive thank you to Karin Heap, our amazing head teacher, who has made this project possible by her determination, by cajoling, by arguing, by pleading, by pushing relentlessly, by talking to the right people (and sometimes the wrong ones), by never giving up and by bringing so many people with her by her enthusiasm and never, never-say-die attitude. Without Karin this project is unlikely to have even begun and through her attention to detail and continually pushing at the boundaries we have a school which will be a flagship for the education of children with complex needs for the foreseeable future. Thank you Karin.
The tree which marks this ceremony has been made by pupils from all three Old Buckenham schools, of which we are now a part. This tree symbolises the progress and the continuing growth of this building for us and for future generations. We look forward to being a part of the Old Buckenham wider community and appreciate your welcome to us.
We believe our association with the village, in all aspects, is of prime importance to the school and we look forward to many years of close association with you.

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