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'Surprising' total as Swaffham school auction helps clear some debt

Among the items up for auction following a school’s closure was a 74-year-old teddy bear belonging to a staff member.

Swaffham’s Sacred Heart sports hall was filled with sports equipment, furniture, musical instruments and toys due to the closure of the senior school.

The items went under the hammer on Saturday after a pre-viewing event had taken place the day before with £10,000 being raised.

The Auction gets underway with Chris Nash and Eddie Howard
The Auction gets underway with Chris Nash and Eddie Howard

And one particular item held a special place in a sister’s heart at the school.

Sister Francis Ridler, born Diana Judith, was given the teddy bear when she was a baby and it is now 74-years-old.

She said the teddy was looking in a “sorry state” and needed a complete facial reconstruction.

Sister Francis with her 74-year-old teddy
Sister Francis with her 74-year-old teddy

The bear, which has travelled with Sister Francis to Bermuda, Germany and Malta, was offered for the auction after being spotted by auctioneer Chris Nash.

Sister Francis’ family ended up bidding for the teddy, which went for £38.

There were around 40 bidders during the day, including Wisbech Sea Scouts who bought one of two minibuses needing new engines for £2,500.

A glass covered book case fetched £525 and a cut-out map of Great Britain raised £110.

A School sign goes under the hammer
A School sign goes under the hammer

On the £10,000 raised, Sister Francis said: “It was a surprising total because the auctioneer knows his job very well and he thought we would make £6,000.

“Some of it went for nothing and some went for an amazing amount.

“Six tall ecclesiastical candlesticks that had not seen the light of day for over 50 years were hidden in the depths of the cellar and have now been reunited with Our Lady of Pity Church for a donation.”

Sister Francis said the funds raised will help to reduce the school’s debt which stands at £50,000. The school also owes money to American Sisters and require sponsorship to keep its barn.

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