Stone circle marks out new school chapter

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Original stones from Tadcaster’s ancient bridge are helping to tell a new chapter in a devastating story to present and future generations.

When the structure collapsed after being battered by the flooding in December 2015 the town was cut in two.

But community spirit shone through and when the new bridge officially re-opened children from Riverside School were some of the first to cross.

Now the school, with funding from Tadcaster Community Engagement Forum and the Friends of Riverside School, has used some of the bridge’s stones, donated by North Yorkshire Council, to create a story circle.

Headteacher Ian Yapp said: “It is being used for quiet reading, storytelling and drama activities.

“The story circle is in use for telling stories and also has a story to tell in its own right.

“Fittingly, on the day of the summer solstice, it has even been christened Storyhenge by one of the school pupils.”

But just as during the dark days of the flood, unveiling the finished scheme did not flow smoothly.

Mr Yapp added: “Unfortunately, calamity fell on the day marked for the original celebratory opening of the Story Circle when, on March 1, the town was covered in snow and Riverside was forced to close, postponing plans including dressing up as storybook characters for World Book Day.

“Then one week later, another snow closure again postponed what had already been hastily re-arranged plans.”

Eventually the school last week managed to successfully open the Story Circle, on a lovely sunny day, choosing one of its visiting author days.

Pupils from Saxton, Appleton Roebuck, Carlton in Snaith, Barkston Ash and St Joseph’s primary schools joined together at Riverside to work with a visiting author and poet Tony Walsh, AKA Longfella.

They spent the day together developing their language and poetic writing skills.

Tony is well known for his uniquely poignant piece ‘This is the Place’ written to stand defiant following the Manchester Arena attack in May 2017.

Also on hand for the formal opening were Bee Rowntree, a board member for the Tadcaster Community Engagement Forum who helped sponsor the project, and Bev Wallbank, a Higher Level Teaching Assistant at Riverside, who came up with the concept and was the driving force behind the project.

Mr Yapp added: “I am delighted with this wonderful installation.”

“Not only is it a practical resource for us to use in school but it has a story of its own to tell too – the history of the bridge, the dramatic events of 2015 and the community endeavour which followed, right through to the community work to install the stone on our site. Thank you to everyone involved.

“It is very fitting that Longfella was here to mark the opening; someone well known for writing about community and what that really means and this is something which we here in Tadcaster, as in Manchester, hold very close to our hearts.”