Tsunami victim to be remembered at Swaffham school’s centenary celebrations

Lynn News Web Site Fillers
Lynn News Web Site Fillers

A new playground is to be unveiled as a permanent tribute to a former pupil during a Swaffham school’s centenary celebrations.

The Louise Willgrass Memorial Playground will be opened at the Sacred Heart School today in honour of the 43 year old, who died in the Asian tsunami disaster in 2004.

Mrs Willgrass was on holiday with her family in Thailand at the time of the disaster and a fund in her name was set up to help rebuild areas affected by the tragedy.

The new woodland play area will be used by children from the Little Pedlars nursery at the school, which Mrs Willgrass attended. The facility has been financed by the Swaffham Rotary club and members of Mrs Willgrass’ family. Her father, Mike Cornwell, is a member of the Rotary club.

Headteacher Sister Francis Ridler said: “It’s a wonderful wildlife area where the children can explore their environment and listen to the birds.”

The playground will also be the setting for a children’s archaeological dig and woodland walks during the weekend.

The opening is part of three days of events marking 100 years since the school was founded by a group of nuns from the Daughters of Divine Charity congregation.

A new book on the history of the school, detailing the story of how the school’s founders came to Swaffham in 1914, will be unveiled during the weekend. Sister Francis explained: “The sisters came just before the First World War. They came from Austria. They spoke German. Things were not easy for them.”

Some of the sisters ultimately returned home to Austria, while those who remained oversaw the development of the Swaffham school, which moved to its present site in Mangate Street in 1920.

Pupils from home and abroad, some of whom are now in their 80s, are expected to join in the celebrations.

Other highlights will include a mass led by the Catholic Bishop of East Anglia, the Rt Rev Alan Hopes, on Saturday afternoon and a black tie dinner and dance on Saturday evening.

There will also be a host of dance and drama performances, plus a show of fashions through the ages.