Students and staff past and present returned to their old stomping ground to help celebrate 50 years of Bede Sixth Form.

Opening its doors to the community, the college on Marsh House Avenue, Billingham, put on an array of live music, a photo exhibition, craft stalls and activities.

“It was fantastic to see so many people walk through the college doors,” said Bede’s principal Patrick Jordan. “We are incredibly proud of our place in the community. There are thousands of people with connections to Bede, and in this our 50th academic year we have loved hearing their stories and sharing memories.”

Bede first opened its doors as a sixth form college in 1972 following a restructure of schools in the area. Formerly a part of Bede Hall Grammar School, the original building was then situated in the renovated Stephenson Hall on Hale Road.

“The building was to be refurbished over the summer,” said retired teacher Brian Wain, who joined the celebrations this week. “It was inevitably late, meaning the new term started with teaching in all sorts of different places.”

Among the original staff to transfer from Bede Hall Grammar School, Brian added: “We all had to pull together until the work was complete and, at last, we were all in the same place. That, I believe, is part of what set the tone for this friendly, family-like college.”

The Bede building you see today was built in 2008 following a merger with Stockton Riverside College, and the future looks bright with a £2.4m development underway this year, making room for a further 200 students.

School leavers still considering their options are invited to come and see what Bede Sixth Form College has to offer. Head along to our open event on Tuesday May 16, from 5 to 7pm or visit Bede.ac.uk to find out more.

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