Big thank you from

Hillsborough said a final farewell to the village school

Lisburn Mayor Jonathan Craig watches as his old school, Hillsborough Primary, is being demolished. US31-128A0 Picture By: Aidan O'Reilly THE community in Hillsborough said a final farewell to the village school last week as the bulldozers moved in to demolish the local Primary.

The school was the seat of learning for the village's youngsters for nearly 50 years and also provided a base for a range of community activities.

It was demolished to make way for the new all-weather sports pitch at Downshire Primary.

The new school, which has recently been completed, will house the pupils from Hillsborough and Newport Primary, when the two schools amalgamate in September.

It will be the latest chapter in the long history of education in the village. The first schools in Hillsborough were built in 1773 by Wills Hill, the first Marquis of Downshire.

Hillsborough Primary, which was razed last week, was built in 1957 when Down County Education Committee purchased a field at the edge of the village.

Since then the school has gone from strength to strength and was educating 390 pupils from the area - way above what it was originally built for.

The school has always prided itself on its inclusive, caring ethos and has a strong academic reputation.

It always encouraged the children to develop extra-curricular activities, including art, sport, music and drama and it is this tradition that it hopes to carry through to the new school.

One of Hillsborough Primary's past pupils, Lisburn Mayor, Councillor Jonathan Craig, had mixed emotions last week as he witnessed the demolition of his alma mater.

"As an ex-pupil of Hillsborough some 30 years ago I, no doubt like many other ex-pupils, can recall many happy memories," said Mr Craig.

"I have happy memories of having been taught by many of the teachers including long retired principal Mr Maxwell and being looked after by the school caretaker Billy McQuillan.

"It is strange the memories that stay with you through the years.

"One of my most endearing and long lasting is of being taught how to tie my laces by Mr McQuillan and the many school lunch breaks I spent playing football on what I can now see was one of the silliest places to play football - the hill adjacent to the old school.

"At the time it was one of the few places where you could play football because all of the other available flat areas were filled with portable class-rooms even then."

Mr Craig also recalled more recent memories. "As the past chairman of the Kilwarlin and Dunbeg Residents Association I can recall using the school premises to host the annual summer scheme, which was attended by almost 200 children, and hosting the annual barbecue and Christmas Fayre in the school hall.

"For all of these events we were grateful to the school for its co-operation and involvement with the community.

"Like most things in life though the old school has outlived the purpose it was built for and it is good to see the new school almost completed now, including the new community hall, all of which will no doubt be a huge and much needed benefit to the residents of Hillsborough."