Yesterday I was invited to Alnwick to present the NCCU Schools award to the chess club at St Paul’s Middle School. In fact the club also caters for former pupils who now attend The Duchess High School. A reporter from local newspaper was there to take photographs and I persuaded her to take one with my camera for the NCCU website, which I attach here.
The picture shows Henry Gormally ( Chess coach, far left), Paul Bielby (NJCA President, centre) and Maria Wilson (Head teacher, far right) together with 4 of the club members. The picture shows the first moves ever played with their new presentation board and set!
The chess club is supported and promoted excellently by Headteacher Mr. Duke. From small beginnings many years ago, with just a dozen players, the club got off the ground by entering the Junior Congresses run by Lancashire Chess Association. These events have generally been the first events that children have attended and they have gained valuable experience at these events which place the children in appropriate sections for their ability. The children have regularly attended these Congresses for several years now with entries of anything up-to 15 children. Some of the children are now playing in adult events.
The school plays in the EPSCA Primary Schools tournament and also the UK Chess Challenge.
The children are part of the very active school chess club. The children also attend regular Lancashire coaching sessions run by Steve Lamb and Bill O’Rourke. These take place on Saturdays, about once a month throughout the chess season and are very well attended especially considering the range of activities on offer to children these days.
The club has the full backing of the school community which makes this club a success. Mrs Haythornthwaite in particular plays a large part in the growth of chess at the school. School staff accompany the players on their residential trips. Mr Duke generously allows the school to be used free of charge to host junior Lancashire training events, and it is hoped to begin running Lancashire junior congresses there soon.
At the heart of the club is a key principle of enjoyment and enrichment for all.
Many players from the club have represented Lancashire at U9 and U11 level, and this representation grows year on year. Some of the youngsters have now made the breakthrough to playing for the ADULT Lancashire u100 and u120 teams!
The Lancashire Chess Association fully endorses Highfield Priory School as being a worthy recipient of the 2013-2014 NCCU Schools award.
Lancashire Chess Association President.
L/R – Bill O’Rourke, Chess teacher Mrs Haythornthwaite, Headteacher Jeremy Duke