OLYMPIC rowing champion Mark Hunter officially opened a new extension at Badgemore Primary School in Henley.
The new facilities, which include a larger hall, three extra classrooms and a refurbished reception area and kitchen, have been in use since September.
Work on the £2.3millionproject started in 2013 and was undertaken in two stages. The first was a new £700,000 cedar-clad classroom at the rear of the school site, which now houses the reception class and also has a wet play area. This opened in early 2014.
Two additional classrooms plus the kitchen, hall and reception were then provided by converting the old hall, staff room and kitchen.
A tree featuring teachers’ handprints as “leaves” was painted on the corridor wall by parent Izzy Kane.
The school can now accept 30 new pupils every year instead of 15. Its total capacity has increased from 100 children to 210, although it will be some years before this figure is reached.
The hall is named after Mike Lewin, a former chairman of the school’s governors, who died this year, age 74.
It is equipped with a stage lighting rig and may be hired by community groups outside school hours.
The larger kitchen allows meals to be cooked on site. They were provided previously by Trinity Primary School in Church Street. The school gardens have been replanted and landscaped by volunteers including parents and members of Henley in Bloom.
Near-neighbours of the school were invited to a tea party in the grounds shortly before the ceremony.
Mr Hunter, a member of Leander Club who won gold in the lightweight double sculls at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, cut a ribbon with Henley Mayor Julian Brookes.
Mr Lewin’s widow Heidi then unveiled a plaque outside the hall.
Afterwards, pupils gave a presentation explaining the benefits of the project and sang Rockin’ All Over The School to the tune of Status Quo’s Rockin’ All Over The World. Headteacher Jackie Steele said: “We would like to thank our neighbours for being so understanding over the past three years. It hasn’t been easy but they think the building is lovely.
“The staff and children are terribly excited about showing the finished building to the wider community.
“It has been a difficult build as we’re quite a challenging site with lots of tree roots to work around.
“However, we’re very proud and there’s a very happy atmosphere here today. We’re pleased to be able to welcome more children into the school.”
Mrs Lewin said: “Mike would be thrilled to see the work completed but I’m sure he’d feel the hall didn’t need to be named after him. He felt he just did what needed doing. He was a very hard worker and a high achiever but at all times modest. He looked for results, not praise.”