Budding reporters have a date with the Queen on a capital day out

Ponteland Middle School students and staff at Westminster before going to the Commonwealth Day observance.
Ponteland Middle School students and staff at Westminster before going to the Commonwealth Day observance.

PONTELAND pupils joined high profile people from across the world at an important Royal event.

And some of the Ponteland Middle School contingent were in the thick of the action as they got exclusive access for a special school report.

The Queen and other members of the Royal family marked Commonwealth Day at Westminster Abbey.

High commissioners and other representatives from the 53 Commonwealth countries were invited, as well as schools and youth groups that took part in the Royal Commonwealth Society’s Jubilee Time Capsule project.

Ponteland Middle School was among the draw winners for places and 13 pupils, along with Headteacher Caroline Pryer and IT and maths teacher Carl Johnson, enjoyed a day out in London.

The hour-long observance, Britain’s largest annual multi-faith gathering, included performances from South African jazz musician and civil rights advocate Hugh Masekela and Canadian singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright, as well as poetry from Scottish Poet Laureate Liz Lochhead.

Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gave a speech and primatologist Dame Jane Goodall welcomed everyone as chimpanzees would greet their family. There was also a message from the Queen and everyone pledged their affirmation to the Commonwealth.

The day was even more memorable for four of the Ponteland students as they did a feature on the event for the BBC School Report, with their words and interviews accompanied by photographs.

Dr Pryor said: “We had a wonderful day, which really helped us to understand what the Commonwealth is all about, and our pupils were very proud to represent Ponteland and Northumberland at the service.

“They enjoyed the performances and seeing the Queen as we chose students who didn’t go to Alnwick last year when she visited the town.

“Our BBC reporters were thrilled when they were told that they had free reign to walk around the abbey and speak to high commissioners and flag bearers, and they also interviewed Rufus Wainwright.

“The abbey staff were lovely and they gave the other nine students a little tour of the building after the observance. We then walked through St James Park and saw Buckingham Palace in glorious sunshine.”

The time capsule project involved people sharing their memories of a special day to create a digital Diamond Jubilee gift for the monarch.

The best entries will be curated into a Royal Collection and be presented to the Queen later this year. Two of Ponteland ’s entries have been put forward as potential material.

The students’ report of the observance is available at www.bbc.co.uk/schoolreport/17368886