A CHURCH school in Yate has marked its ruby anniversary with a special mass and celebration for pupils and staff.

St Paul’s Roman Catholic Primary School in Sundridge Park, first opened its doors in 1973 having been founded by the parish of St Lawrence’s Church in Chipping Sodbury and St Paul’s Church next door in Yate.

The school was the brainchild of the late Canon Edmond Murphy, who was also responsible for the building of the adjacent church.

It opened on January 8, 1974 with 74 pupils but the school has grown over the years and now has 192, near to its capacity of 210 children.

School business manager Dee Hatherell said the buildings had been completely remodelled since those early days.

“It used to be all open plan and was very 1970s,” she said. “It got a major remodelling when former head teacher Julian Clements took over. It had been so old fashioned and he made it very modern and clean. It was his philosophy.”

The school is within the Catholic Diocese of Clifton and pupils regularly attend church and are supported by the St Paul’s congregation.

Said Mrs Hatherell: “We are a very family orientated school and our ethos is ‘raising God’s children to distinction’.

“The children get lots of opportunities here, we do as many trips as we can and different things.

“Because of our church links we pull in a lot of children from all over Yate and Chipping Sodbury and we get a lot from different backgrounds so we cover a lot of the social spectrum. It makes it a very diverse school.”

To celebrate the 40th anniversary, St Paul’s held a special mass led by Vicar General, the Rev Monsignor Canon Bernard Massey. Afterwards there were tea and tours for past and present staff and pupils.

Current head teacher Maxine Sewell returned from maternity leave for the occasion and a special 40th anniversary cake was cut in the school’s honour.