Hexton JMI celebrates 175th anniversary

Hexton JMI pupils with Mrs Yvonne Limbrick, former head of the school, cutting a cake to commemorate its 175th anniversary

Hexton JMI pupils with Mrs Yvonne Limbrick, former head of the school, cutting a cake to commemorate its 175th anniversary - Credit: Hexton JMI

A primary school on the outskirts of Hitchin has marked a monumental milestone with a party for the community to enjoy.

Despite the looming threat of closure, Hexton JMI pupils, their families, and both current and former staff joined together on October 1 with people from the village to celebrate 175 years of the school, which was founded in 1846 by Caroline de Lautour.

Hexton JMI pupils visited the British Schools Museum in Hitchin to experience school just as children did 175 years ago

Hexton JMI pupils visited the British Schools Museum in Hitchin to experience school just as children did 175 years ago - Credit: Hexton JMI

In a speech at the event, interim headteacher Colette Pidgeon spoke of her pride in the school's rich history, and her aspiration for the school to still be running for generations to come. 

"I think that feeling and that spirit is what has carried us through to today," she said.

"With the team that we have here at this school, the children, their families and the villagers, it definitely speaks of what Caroline de Lautour set out to achieve when she opened this school 175 years ago. 

She added: "Today isn't about anything else. We know what else is happening. But what we want to hang on to and remember is the spirit of this school. And if any school can grow, it is this school, because of the people."

The Hexton community put a sweet spread together in celebration of the primary school's 175th birthday

Families and members of the Hexton community put a sweet spread together in celebration of the primary school's 175th birthday - Credit: Maya Derrick

Noting the impact of Hexton JMI's presence within the community, solidified with generations of pupils and staff in attendance, she closed by saying: "We all have our own school memories, and I think this school really has some memories that are incredibly special, and will continue to be."

Cllr David Barnard also spoke, pleading to people from far and wide to help ensure the future of the primary school.

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"This is our school, this is our community. Our community needs to thrive. If we do that, then we're in for a chance," he said.

Bim Afolami, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, visited the school the morning of the open day, and said: “It was a great pleasure to visit Hexton JMI School on Friday to meet governors, staff and pupils as they marked the school’s 175th anniversary. 

"This is a fantastic rural school at the heart of the local community and I continue to work hard supporting parents and governors in their bid to protect the school from closure. 

"They have a strong, viable plan for the school’s future - one that I believe they should be given the time to implement.”

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