Disappointed Banbury school pupils whose prom was cancelled WILL go to the ball - thanks to parents

Students of a Banbury school who were told they could not have a traditional prom have found they will have a leavers' ball after all.

Tuesday, 27th July 2021, 2:24 pm
Updated Tuesday, 27th July 2021, 2:59 pm
The Whately Hall, where pupils of Blessed George Napier school will enjoy a 2021 Leavers' Summer Ball

A group of parents has performed minor miracles to ensure that 75 of the Blessed George Napier school pupils will be able to glam-up and go to the 2021 Leavers' Summer Ball at Banbury s Whately Hall Hotel which takes place on Thursday evening.

Tina Griffin, one of the band of mums and dads, said they were thrilled for the children who have been through a uniquely difficult time over the past 18 months.

"After all they've been through with lockdowns, home-schooling, isolating, multiple mock-GCSEs and not knowing how their grades would be decided on top of all the other Covid regulations, they really deserved this party at the end of term," she said.

Party-goers have been offered a gallery of prom dresses to wear at Thursday's Ball

"There were so many obstacles to BGN having a prom which had been booked originally for July 8 but needed to be postponed because restrictions hadn't been lifted. Naturally the young people had got excited and started to make arrangements. Then they were told there wouldn't be a prom because the hotel couldn't accommodate 140 students for a sit-down meal.

"A buffet was suggested but there were issues about whether some families would be able to afford it after a long time on furlough.

"But as a group of parents, who all have children in that year group, we really wanted to do it and to give the kids a treat they deserve after all the stress of the Covid era. So we said we'd do it. We have taken it very seriously and paid a lot of attention to safeguarding and vetting our volunteer helpers."

Mrs Griffin contacted the Whately Hall Hotel whose events manager, Lisa Bradley, agreed that the pupils deserved their Ball and pulled out all the stops to get a red carpet reception prepared for the party-goers.

Then other parents and local businesses followed this by offering some amazing raffle prizes. Mark Lester offered a heavily discounted disco; Lee Atherton from Lee Atherton Photography offered to hold an official photoshoot in the Whately's lovely gardens and graphic designer Alison Noakes og Airloo Design designed the green and gold themed tickets, banner, website design, letterheads and wristbands.

(Parents will be offered photographs for a donation to Mr Atherton's chosen charity crohnsandcolitis.orgMeanwhile Dave Tabern and staff at Wood Green, The Animals Charity, High Street, Banbury handed over prom dresses, suits, bags and shoes in return for a donation. The party wear, along with other garments, has been advertised on the Ball website to allow pupils to choose a favourite outfit.

Ruth and Andy Aris are providing a sweetie cart, Becky Moyce has provided a photographic frame for a selfie backdrop and Gaida Webb is busy baking cup cakes.

All students were invited to the Ball and the group made the offer of help to any who may have needed support to buy tickets. The party is confirmed at 75 guests.

"We have been wary of whether parents could afford things like limousines so we've said 'Save the Planet and walk' but we're thrilled the Whately is going to put a red carpet out for the students. We've asked everyone to take a Covid test on Wednesday to be as sure as we can that things will be safe," said Mrs Griffin.

"We're staggering arrivals and want them all checked in by 8pm when the photoshoot will happen. We are so pleased for them. They've had the worst affected Year 10 - 11 imaginable; school has been off and on, they had to home-school themselves, a lot of them caught Covid, many have had to isolate, they have had to do three lots of mocks and teacher assessment too and no one knows what's going to happen when the results come out.

"It's been very stressful and we hope they have a fantastic time on Thursday."

The team comprises Tina Griffin, Jo Lewis, Siobhan Griffin, Loretta Fairley, Fiona Wagstaff and Louise Kenny, all of whom have given an enormous amount of time to ensure the event goes ahead.

Photos of the arrivals will be taken by Ian Gentles of Banburyshire Info and will appear on that community Facebook page on Friday.