Spirit of the old school lives on

Neve, three, with mum Victoria Walton and great grandmother Joyce Bellamy.
Neve, three, with mum Victoria Walton and great grandmother Joyce Bellamy.
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A former school which closed after more than 50 years educating young people has been brought back into use by the granddaughter of its founder.

Little Rainbows Nursery has been opened by Victoria Walton, granddaughter of Joyce Bellamy, who set up Inglebrook School in Pontefract in 1963.

Four generations of the family have now enjoyed learning at the Northgate Close school after Mrs Walton’s daughter Neve became the first child to enrol at the new nursery.

Mrs Walton’s mother Diane Ross and aunt Gillian Strickleton were educated at the independent school, which closed last July due to dwindling numbers of pupils.

And her son Dexter will join Little Rainbows when he turns two.

Mrs Walton, who ran a business training childcare professionals before setting up the new nursery, said: “It was quite daunting at first because I left a secure job and I have two children under four.

“But I don’t regret it because it’s my children’s future now.

“We wanted to follow in the footsteps of Inglebrook.

“It means the spirit of Inglebrook will live on.”

Inglebrook school once had as many as 250 primary age pupils after being set up by Joyce Bellamy with an advert in the Pontefract and Castleford Express 53 years ago.

It was first based at Mrs Bellamy’s home, then moved to Carleton Community Centre before settling at Northgate Close in 1988.

The decision to close was taken after the number of pupils fell to just 50.

Mrs Walton said: “She’s been down to visit us a lot but she’s also enjoying being a retired lady.”

Now Little Rainbows occupies part of the building but could be expanded, Mrs Walton said

Among the staff is Mrs Walton’s friend Louise Scattergood, who is an apprentice at Little Rainbows.

Mrs Walton, 32, added: “We officially opened on January 4.

“We offer funded places for two, three and four-year-olds and also places for people who want to pay.

“We run a varity of activities for children.

“We have 11 children on the register at the moment but we will hopefully have more on the waiting list. We have places available.”