Long-running saga at an end with opening of new facility

Coun Robert Arckless In the new kitchen, with Lucy Morgan, George Mavir and Elliot Mavir.
Coun Robert Arckless In the new kitchen, with Lucy Morgan, George Mavir and Elliot Mavir.

A north Northumberland first school has celebrated the harvest season in style, with the official opening of its new dining hall and kitchen.

Children, teachers, parents, governors and guests joined Coun Robert Arckless, Northumberland County Council’s policy board member for children’s services, as he launched the new facility at Rothbury First School on Tuesday.

The £340,000 scheme has seen the full refurbishment of the building, with the roof removed, the walls stripped out and the internal spaces reconfigured to also provide new, good-quality storage and accessible toilet facilities.

The new kitchen meets the very latest in food safety and hygiene requirements and has been fitted with a new extraction system, new windows and an external ramp.

Coun Arckless said: “I am delighted to see this great new facility up and running and being enjoyed by children, staff and the local community.

“The environment in which we learn and enjoy school activities is very important and this investment by the council has turned a tired hall and kitchen into spaces that we can all be proud of.”

During the event, the pupils sang harvest songs and parents were invited to their classrooms to buy food made by their children that day. Invited guests were given a guided tour of the new facilities.

Headteacher Nicki Mathewson said: “We are delighted with the refurbishment. At last our children are being served meals in a lovely, uncluttered environment.

“The space is also proving its worth for assemblies, PE and after-school activities.”

The Gazette first reported in the sage of the school’s kitchen in May 2012 when the crumbling kitchen was branded unfit for purpose during a crucial food-safety inspection.

Then in August, it was announced that renovation work was on the funding list for that financial year.

However, in May last year, a petition urging the county council to rebuild the kitchen and dining hall, rather than refurbishing it, collected more than 500 names.