Parents in Whitby have launched a fight to save Eskdale School from closure, backed by two famous former pupils.
Within a week of hearing news of proposals to merge the school with Caedmon College they had set up a campaign group, secured over 2,500 signatures on a petition and created a Facebook group which has attracted support from over 2,200 people including parents, present pupils and ex-pupils.
Meetings are also being arranged for the coming few weeks to publicly discuss the proposals which were leaked on Thursday night to the shock and dismay of the school community.
And, celebrities are also backing the campaign to save the school with singer Alistair Griffin and actress Joanne Froggatt, both ex-pupils, getting on board.
The Downton Abbey actress, Ms Froggatt retweeted campaigners and Castleton born singer/songwriter Mr Griffin said on his Facebook page that “an injustice” was taking place at his old school under suggestions to close it.
“This would be a travesty as it’s a wonderful school. When I visited a few months ago it was a place full of life, talent, enthusiasm and most importantly, happy children.
“To close the school would break the heart of that community and would be a loss to Whitby as a whole.
“Schools like Eskdale shape your life and the person you become and without the teachers, friends, support and encouragement I got from Eskdale, I wouldn’t have achieved the things I have today.
“If the Local Authority have their way and close Eskdale, they won’t just be closing a school, they’ll be closing down the aspirations and inspiration of hundreds of children and forgetting the thousands of children down the years like me who the school has helped on their way.”
A spokesman for the “Fight To Save Eskdale” group told the Gazette that the feeling, as news broke last week, was “sheer disbelief” and that they have been overwhelmed by the reaction and support.
He said: “On Thursday night the children came home from school and had no idea about it at all. When it came up on Facebook we thought it was another rumour but then more and more people were putting more information on there.
“It was unbelief. After the campaign for 11 to 16 and plans for year 9 to go to year 10 in September there would have been extra pupils and you would have thought the future of the school was secure and rosy.
“The support has been overwhelming but not surprising. It is a fantastic school and my children have been very happy there. The school has a lovely ethos.
“Our main drive is that it is important to have choice. We want to be able to choose the school that is more suitable for our children.
“From our point of view, both schools are good schools and even parents of Caedmon pupils are supportive of what we are doing. What is right for one child is not right for another.”
The group is collating signatures, petitions and comments which they will be forwarding to Cllr Arthur Barker prior to a council meeting on February 9. This is where he is set to decide whether to move on the merger proposal and put it out to public consultation.
Petitions are based at the following locations.
Thorpe Stores, Flyingthorpe; Laurel Inn, Robin Hoods Bay; Hare and Hounds, Hawsker; Young’s Jewellers, Skinner Street, Whitby; Whitby Insurance, Flowergate; Flecks, Flowergate; Silver street fisheries; Co-op, Whitby; McColls (Helredale Stores); Eastside Community Centre; Barnard Butchers, Fylingthorpe; Whitby Tyres and Exhausts; Riverside Fisheries, Church Street.