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Prestigious award for Draperstown school

The school has won a TES award for the second year running.

A County Derry school has won a prestigious award for its outreach work in the local community.

Pupils and staff at St Colm's High School are celebrating after a community link forged between the school and a retirement and care home was recognised with a UK-wide award.

St Colm's picked up the Community and Collaboration Award at the TES Schools Awards at the weekend.

This is the second year in a row the school have been recognised, winning the Sustainable School of the Year award in 2019.

The school linked up with local retirement and care complex, Ballinascreen Fold, after noticing the Fold's garden had fallen into disrepair.

Students worked with the residents to revamp the garden, developing an eco-friendly space, complete with birdfeeders and features made from recycled tyres.

A key part of the programme also saw pupils participating in social activities at the Fold and also hosting the residents at a bingo and karaoke night at the local youth club.

The programme lifted the spirits of the residents in the Fold.

One resident recalled how several beloved members of the community had died in the previous 18 months.

“The meeting of our generations was timely as it came when our community on the Fold was at a low ebb. Things seemed to be going downhill for us,” he said.

Claire Devlin, from St Colm's High School, said they were delighted to receive the award.

“This is just so rewarding for the school, parish and wider community,” she said.

“We have been amazed by the generosity and support for this project from the local businesses, local youth club and so many more. All this passion and dedication has made it possible.

“When children are saying 'I love this biodiversity walkway as it means I’m not on my phone for a while', and then the older folks are saying that they can now send pictures on their phones to their families – you really see the intergenerational exchanges in practice.”

The Tes Schools Awards were held virtually for the first time to comply with coronavirus regulations.

In previous years the awards ceremony has been held at the Grosvenor Hotel, on London’s Park Lane.

St Colm's Principal, Mrs Roisin McKenna, said the award was reflective of everyone's hard work.

“Winning another prestigious TES Award two years in a row is absolutely amazing. The TES judges said the Ballinascreen Intergenerational Project made community relationships blossom," she said.

"Under the leadership of Mrs Clare Devlin the connections with many outside agencies through eco has been phenomenal and this award is a testimony to this tremendous work and is richly deserved.

"All groups work together for the good of the parish and the health and wellbeing of St. Colm’s High School and the wider community. It is particularly heartwarming to receive this positive award during these challenging times."

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