There was a surprise in store for Bishop Andrew, on Friday 14th June 20242, when he travelled to Gartan National School to officially open its new extension and playscape. The staff at the school had done their homework and found out that the Bishop was celebrating his birthday, the same day and, while the school community gave thanks for their impressive new classroom block and wonderful new playground, Bishop Andrew was presented with a chocolate birthday cake, complete with sparkling fountain candle.

It wasn’t the only cake on hand at the school, which overlooks Gartan Lake. There was another, with the words ‘Celebration Day 2024’ iced on it, which captured perfectly the sense of achievement among staff and pupils as another academic year drew towards a close.

There were tears among pupils and parents as four of the older children bade farewell to their teachers and fellow pupils before preparing to head off for the summer and then the next stage in their education. Presentations were made to two pupils for their perfect attendance records this year.

Principal Ann Gourley thanked the many people who had helped make the new extension a reality. She said the school had been waiting for the new classroom since 2007. And she praised members of the school community for helping to raise the funds – and doing the work – that led to the opening today of the new playscape.

Bishop Andrew said the boys and girls at Gartan were a credit to their parents and guardians, and said he was “hugely proud” of Gartan School. “A happy, healthy, learning environment in school is not only a blessing to what happens in here,” he said, “it’s a blessing to each and every home that’s represented [here] and it’s a blessing to the wider community.”

The Bishop was subsequently invited to perform not one but two opening ceremonies, cutting the ribbon on the new extension and then on the play area.