'Tremendous sadness' as Staffordshire private school closes unexpectedly

The founder of a private school which closed unexpectedly has expressed her 'tremendous sadness' at its demise.

'Tremendous sadness' as Staffordshire private school closes unexpectedly

The fee-paying Vernon Lodge Preparatory School in Stretton, which had 30 pupils, was shut for the final time last month.

Its owners were forced to close the school after financial trouble in the wake of falling pupil numbers.

Dorothy Lodge, who founded the school in 1981 and remained at the helm for three decades before selling it in 2011, today spoke of her disappointment.

She said: "I feel tremendous sadness about Vernon Lodge closing.

"My heart goes out to all the pupils, the parents, the headteacher and all of the staff, as well as the friends and wider Vernon Lodge community.

"I thank all those who helped build the school for providing us with so many special memories."

Vernon Lodge is named after Ms Lodge and her mother Kay Vernon who opened its doors.

It started out as a kindergarten with eight youngsters, including Ms Lodge's own two children Guy and Caroline who were two and one-years-old at the time.

In 1985 it became a fully fledged preparatory school taking children up to seven years of age and two years later it expanded even further educating pupils all the way up to senior school.

Over the years further additions followed - infant and junior blocks, a sports hall, a playing field, a library, IT suite as well as music and art rooms.

Ms Lodge said: "Above all it was the family atmosphere that sustained Vernon Lodge.

"Over the years so many pupils came through those country school gates. And so many friendships were made between the pupils, staff and parents – friendships which continue to thrive today."

She added: "Such was the warmth of the school. It really was quite magical. Indeed many parents chose Vernon Lodge for this special, unique family atmosphere."

Many pupils went on to the top senior schools in the country such as the likes of King Edwards in Birmingham.

Plenty of former students also earned places to Oxbridge college's later on as well.

In 2003 The Sunday Times ranked it as the 15th best prep schools in the country.

But last Thursday teary pupils emptied their desks for the final time.

Many parents and staff had been aware of the growing challenges and reducing admissions since 2011.

But reality struck when liquidators arrived and shut the doors for good at 3pm on February 26.

Ms Lodge, now 65, said: "I had always believed the list of achievements would go on, and the school would continue to evolve and grow but sadly last week life at Vernon Lodge came to an end.

Ms Lodge said anyone wishing to keep in touch could email her at dorothyvernonlodge@gmail.com or join the alumni group called 'Friends of Vernon Lodge' on Facebook.

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