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Ex-pupils get first chance to see school’s transformation

A group of former Washington school pupils have had a sneak peak of the transformation of their old school more than 50 years after they left.

The women, who attended Washington Old School in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, took a step back through the school gates to see how the building has been transformed into accommodation to support vulnerable people, a scheme led by Sunderland City Council.

The friends all regularly attend the nearby Columbia Community Association Friday coffee morning and had watched as work progressed on their former school.

On hearing about the group’s love for the school and keen interest in seeing what had happened inside the building, Sunderland City Council organised a VIP tour, ahead of its official opening.

Having stood empty for 20 years, the Old School building has been transformed into 15 new specialist apartments, providing much-needed homes for vulnerable adults in Sunderland.

Mary Kemp started at the school as an infant 81 years ago and was delighted to see the development at the site.

She said: “The work they have done is beautiful. I’m so pleased they have managed to find a new use for the building, I would have hated to have seen it demolished.

“I’ve lived in the area all my life – I’ve been in the same house in Washington for 63 years – it’s great that this historic building can be brought back into use.”

Jean Coxon echoed Mary’s thoughts and the visit brought back happy memories of her time as a pupil.

“I loved going to this school – I didn’t miss a day! I’m so pleased the building is going to be used for something so worthwhile,” said Jean.

The redevelopment is part of a local authority-led plan that has already created scores of new homes for older and vulnerable residents across the city.  The Old School neighbours a cluster of new bungalows that the council also recently developed to boost the number of homes for older people and those with physical disabilities in Washington.

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