Treat for Welney pupils before school closure

Left to right: Sara Marshall & Mark Nokkert of the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership, Alver Smart, Aimy Benterx, ''Nigel Drake, Rick Smart. Photo by: Karen Hopkin

Left to right: Sara Marshall & Mark Nokkert of the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership, Alver Smart, Aimy Benterx, ''Nigel Drake, Rick Smart. Photo by: Karen Hopkin

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Pupils were treated to a day out at popular nature reserve just days before their school closed its doors for good.

Children from the William Marshall CE VC Primary School in Welney enjoyed an exclusive screening of a new film about fen skating and a fun-filled day out at WWT Welney Wetland Centre.

Norfolk County Council closed the school at the end of the last term due to falling pupil numbers, slipping standards and a budget deficit.

The film, “Chasing Ice”, tells the story of fen skating along with the history and folklore that surrounds this exciting sport. T

he film, made by Cambridge Film Works, was commissioned by the Fen Skating Association as part of their Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership project, which is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The children also had an opportunity to learn more about fen skating and win prizes through an exciting virtual treasure hunt and competition.

The competition was judged by Nigel Drake, Chairman of the Fen Skating Association, Alver and Rick Smart, great grandsons of Turkey Smart and Aimy Benterx, granddaughter of Alvar.

Turkey Smart was a famous fen skating champion and Welney resident in the 1800s.

On awarding the prizes to the children, Nigel Drake also thanked the WWT Welney Wetland Centre for hosting the event.

In the afternoon there was a reception and screening for the residents of Delph House Care Home in Welney and for the general public in the evening. The film and virtual treasure hunt will be made available to local schools before it is generally available. It was also announced that Sutton-born David Smith, speed skater and keen fen skater, had recently qualified for the World Masters. As Roger Giles, who organised this fantastic day, said “fingers crossed that David brings a gold medal home to the Fens and puts Welney back on the map as the birthplace of fen skating”.

Mark Nokkert, Programme Manager of the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership said “we’re so pleased that the Welney school children and Delph House residents came and took part in this fantastic project and had lots of fun.

We’re delighted with the film and excited to see it raise public awareness of this significant part of local cultural heritage. Now all we need is a little ice to continue the skating traditions in the Ouse Washes Landscape”.