Derwent Primary pupils are now learning in a brand-new teaching block named in honour of one of the school’s late governors.
Construction of the new ten-classroom facility was completed over the Christmas period, and it has been named the Buttercup Block to commemorate the life of governor Leah McDermott, who passed away in 2020.
The Foundations’ 1968 pop hit ‘Build Me Up Buttercup’ was one of her favourites and the school wanted to reference the track in creating a lasting memorial for future generations.
In 2021, the school became one of the first in Central Bedfordshire to change from a lower to a primary, as part of Central Bedfordshire Council’s Schools for the Future programme. The expansion will now allow Derwent to increase its age range by two-year groups, from 3-11 years, providing 60 pupil places in each year group, with a total of 480 places.
The next phase of the expansion project is now underway, with the remodelling of the existing school building, which is expected to be completed this spring.
As part of that refurbishment, Derwent Primary plan to name the newly created library after Caroline Coombs, a librarian by profession, who also sadly passed away last year. Caroline served as Derwent Primary’s Chair of Governors, and it was Caroline who revealed in May 2022 the name of the Buttercup Block in a poignant speech to her “inspirational” predecessor during a time capsule burial ceremony.
Central Bedfordshire Council, Executive Member for Families, Education and Children, Cllr Sue Clark, said: “It’s always an important milestone to see the completion of a school construction project, but we know that this carries extra significance for Derwent Primary as the Buttercup Block which is a beautiful name will forever be a memorable tribute to Leah McDermott.
“And we also look forward to seeing the work completed on the remodelling of the existing building, where the library will be named in honour of Caroline Coombs. It is so thoughtful of the school to name these building after two wonderful members of the school community. I have no doubt that both environments will help inspire the learning of many generations to come, while helping to raise educational standards.”
Derwent Primary School’s Executive Head, Samantha Barlow, said: “I am truly honoured and excited to be the Executive Head at Derwent and Southill Federation at such a crucial time in the development of the schools.
“Derwent is truly 21st century ready, with a modern, warm and vibrant set of buildings enabling us to teach an exceptional curriculum to our pupils. We look forward to being the school of choice for all our local primary pupils and aim to give them the best chance to learn and be exceptionally well educated children as they move onto secondary school.”
Darren Fellowes, Associate Director at Concertus, said: “We are delighted to have been part of the design and delivery team for this new teaching block and internal alteration works. Being part of the Council’s vision to build schools for the future has been a truly amazing experience. We have very much enjoyed working with the Central Bedfordshire Council team, the main contractor SMD and the school, to achieve a fantastic build”.
Moomith Ullah, SMD Director, said: “It was an honour to be part of the Derwent Primary School expansion, in line with the Schools for the Future programme. We recognise how the completion of the construction works of the Buttercup Block is going to shape, inspire and develop the learning of future generations to come. This is something we imagine Leah McDermott would be championing for the children throughout Henlow before her unfortunate passing.”