A new man in the top job...

Tony Palmer

Tony Palmer

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It’s all go at a north Northumberland school which now has a new headteacher and two new buses.

Tony Palmer, currently deputy headteacher at St Mary’s Middle School in Belford, clinched the top job on Friday, seeing off a host of other strong candidates.

He will take up the post in September after the departure of the hugely popular Lynne Brookes, who is heading home to take up a teaching post in her native Yorkshire.

“We are delighted to announce Mr Palmer’s appointment,” said Dr Sebastian Moss, chairman of St Mary’s governors.

“We are confident that he will take the school very successfully into the next phase of its development.”

Mr Palmer, who joined St Mary’s just over three years ago from Lindisfarne Middle School in Alnwick, said that he was ‘thrilled’ to follow in Mrs Brookes’ footsteps.

“The future looks very bright here,” he added.

But as well as the keys to his school, Mr Palmer will also be getting the keys to two new school buses after a huge fund-raising effort by the school staff, the Parent Teachers Association and the community.

A Year of the Mini-Bus campaign to raise in excess of £15,000 for a new 17-seat vehicle was launched last year to replace the school’s trusty, but battered, old one and has just hit its target.

As reported last month, thieves stole the school’s old bus from the playground. Police have so far failed to find those responsible and believe it may have been chopped up for spare parts.

But when members of the Northumbria Community Christian retreat at Felton read about the theft in the Gazette, they were so saddened by the impact on the St Mary’s pupils, who faced missing out on trips and sports fixtures, they donated their own mini-bus to the school.

“Everyone is enormously grateful for the way the Northumbria Community has rallied to the children’s aid by offering us the bus they owned, but rarely used,” said Mrs Brookes.

“It will enhance the children’s educational opportunities for years to come.”