A remodelled library at Derwent Primary has been officially named in honour of the school’s late Chair of Governors, Mrs Caroline Coombs, and described as a “fitting tribute” that will “serve as an inspiration for generations to come”.
As a librarian and passionate advocate of children’s reading, Caroline was a driving force behind the improvement of this wonderful school facility, which is the final piece of the school’s expansion, delivered by Central Bedfordshire Council, to support its transition from a lower school to a two-form entry primary.
A new teaching block to accommodate key stage two pupils, serving the local community in Henlow, was completed over the Christmas period and named the Buttercup Building in commemoration of Caroline’s predecessor, Leah McDermott, whom she called “inspirational” in a speech she delivered at the very start of the construction works.
Now, the memory of Caroline, her work for Derwent Primary School has been given a legacy with a plaque installed in her honour, bearing an observation from 19th-century poet Walter Landor, which reads, ‘Nothing is pleasanter than exploring a library…’
The Head of Derwent Primary, Mrs Tenille Rimmer, is passionate about literacy and language and is now ensuring that the library and the focus on great books for children, remains at the forefront of Derwent’s educational offer.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held to officially unveil the memorial attended by Caroline’s husband Gavin Coombs and their two children as well as dignitaries from Derwent Primary, Central Bedfordshire Council, constructors SMD, designers Concertus and RAF Henlow.
Gavin Coombs said: “I know this will be more than a library it will be a hub of learning for the children, now and in the future. Caroline’s vision was unwavering – a thriving hub that would nurture not only bright minds, but also strong bonds within the Derwent community. This library is more than bricks and mortar; it is a beacon of knowledge, a sanctuary of imagination, and a cornerstone of growth. Now bearing Caroline’s name, the library will serve as an inspiration for generations to come. It is a fitting tribute to a person whose legacy will continue to shine brightly through the lives of those who learn and grow within this brilliant school. Caroline would be so proud of all the hard work everyone has done to ensure this amazing space was created. Thank you for this beautiful tribute to Caroline’s memory.”
Robin Welsford, the Vice Chair of Governors at Derwent Primary, said: “Caroline gave so much to Derwent Primary School and she passionately believed the children could attain the highest level if they were given the right environment and nurture, and it was her mission to ensure they got that. I think it’s really fitting that we mark the completion of the build programme that is now facilitating that transition from a lower to a primary school, by dedicating the library in her memory. We feel we are very well-placed to meet the challenges of the future and deliver a top-drawer learning experience and education for our children. Caroline’s legacy can be seen throughout all of this and not least in our new library. Caroline knew that books can have an impact way beyond their pages and words, so a library is, in so many ways, one of the richest places on earth and naming this brand-new one in Derwent Primary in her memory is a continuing thank you to her for all she did for us.”
Central Bedfordshire Council, Executive Member for Families, Education and Children, Cllr Hayley Whitaker, said: “Libraries are special places, but hearing about Caroline and the passion she had for children reading plus tributes paid to her work as Chair of Governors makes it particularly poignant to unveil a space that she would have been very proud of. Derwent Primary’s library, along with the school’s brand-new facilities, will help make many positive contributions to children’s education, now and for generations to come.”
SMD Director, Moomith Ullah, said: “Libraries are where adventure begins. They are an arena of possibility, opening a door onto the world. After hearing of Caroline’s passing, and the impact she had at Derwent Primary school, it’s not even a question that we should honour her by dedicating the newly refurbished library in her name. Caroline’s passion and dedication were apparent throughout her career and time as Chair of Governors. It was an honour to facilitate the refurbishment of the library, alongside the schools’ brand-new facilities which will continue to accelerate children’s adventures and learning journeys now, and into the future.”
Bradley Dedman, Architectural Designer from Concertus, said: “It has been a real pleasure to have worked collaboratively with SMD Ltd and Central Bedfordshire Council to support the transition of Derwent Lower School to a primary school. The library refurbishment was the final stage of this phased project, and it was fantastic to finally see the children enjoying all of their new facilities. It has been an honour to have delivered each element of this project from the expansion of the reception to delivery of the new teaching block, and we are happy to see it conclude with such a sentimental milestone.”