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School receives historic artefacts from former pupil

The Read School, Drax, recently hosted one of its former pupils, who visited the school to donate a number of artefacts to the school archives.

Celebrating its 350th anniversary this year, the school is planning to hold a small exhibition in the summer term of items from its archives, making the donation especially significant. Tom Strickland, who now lives in Chester, was a pupil at the school from 1971 to 1978, following in the footsteps of his father, Ronald, who had been a pupil there from 1919 to 1927.

Ronald Strickland became a governor at the school in 1959 and served as Chairman from 1971 to 1979, when he retired. Few governors in this day and age serve for as long on any school board, and his contribution to the running of the school came at a crucial time, helping to guide it through the conversion to full independence in 1967, following the decision by the then West Riding County Council to discontinue the funding of the school as Drax Grammar School.

The Drama Studio at the school is named in his memory, and a prize bearing his name is presented for the best all-round contribution by a Pre-Prep School child, at the school’s annual Commemoration Day. Tom Strickland decided to donate several items of interest to the school, not least a special spade which bears the inscription ‘Presented to R M Strickland, Chairman of Governors, 1971-1979, on the occasion of the turf-cutting ceremony for the new school hall, 21 February 1980.’  This was to be the foundations of the Moloney Hall, which was completed and officially opened in 1981 and is still in full use by the pupils of the school today.

Headmaster Dr John Sweetman said: ‘The items which Tom has kindly donated to the school are of great significance and we are very grateful to him for his generosity.  They will take pride of place in our exhibition in the summer, which we are very excited about as we hope to show a wide range of artefacts going back several hundred years. We are very proud of the fact that there has been a school on the same site here for 350 years.’

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