A WOMAN described as a ‘national icon’ was the guest of honour at an event staged to officially open two new Bromsgrove schools.

Olympic medalist and TV presenter Sharron Davies opened the new Parkside Middle and Meadows First Schools and Nursery.

Sharron was accompanied by 400m Olympic silver medalist Jamie Baulch and gymnast Charlie Burrows, who is currently the UK’s number one ‘tumbler.’ The sporting trio’s visit was arranged by Super Schools, a fundraising organisation dedicated to encouraging youngsters to participate in sport.

The new ‘under one roof’ schools cost £11.5m and are one of seven to be built in the district at a combined cost of £63m.

They were built on land behind the former Meadows school, off Stourbridge Road, and are equipped with state of the art facilities including a fully networked computer installation, light, spacious classrooms, plus three halls for PE, drama and music.

New technology was used to beam the opening ceremony into every classroom because of space limitations in the hall.

The visitors, which included former members of both schools’ staff, county council chairman Alwyn Davies, county council leader George Lord, other civic dignitaries, governors and friends of the schools, were welcomed by Meadows’ headteacher Pam Townsend.

Briefly reviewing the background to the new schools, which she called an ‘amazing and exciting project,’ Pam mentioned the part played by the late county and district councillor Russ Clayton, who had been a governor at Meadows.

This was followed by Parkside youngsters giving their views on the new school and was followed by musical entertainment from Meadows pupils.

A demonstration of cheerleading by pupils from both schools followed before Councillor Lord rose to make a brief speech in which he highlighted the in-built assets of the new building and wished both headteachers well in their forthcoming retirements.

In his welcoming address John Graham, head of Parkside, introduced Sharron Davies as a ‘national icon’ who he said has dedicated her life to sport.

Sharron spoke about her swimming career and her strict six hours a day, 20-year training programme under her father. She was presented with a bouquet by the two youngest Meadows pupils and thanked by Parkside’s head boy and deputy head girl.