A MUCH-LOVED Wirral special needs school marked the end of an era with an emotional leavers' assembly as it prepared to close its doors for the last time.

Pupils at Lyndale School in Eastham sang songs and presented a very special production of The Story of Noah during the assembly on Thursday.

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Emily Faulkner with teaching assistant Pat Merrick take part in Lyndale School leavers' assembly. Pictures: Geoff Davies

It was a highly-emotional afternoon for parents, children, staff and supporters who have fought passionately to save the school since Wirral’s ruling cabinet voted unanimously in favour of closure in September 2014.

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Scott Howell during Lyndale School leavers' assembly

Their decision was based on a fall in pupil numbers and a change in funding for special needs children.

Just 11 pupils now remain.

Its closure has been well-documented in the Globe

Read Emma Rigby's incredibly moving interviews with parents of Lyndale childen by clicking here

Our readers raised more than £80,000 to provide Lyndale with a sensory garden and other features designed to improve the life of its profoundly disabled youngsters.

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Headteacher Kim Owen (pictured, above) who was presented with flowers by parents after the assembly, told the Globe: “It has been a real privilege for me to have spent the last 30 years working at Lyndale.

"I have worked with so many wonderful and inspiring children, their families and amazing staff over the years which hold a lot of happy memories and thoughts."

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Scott Howell with carer Carolyn during the leavers' assembly 

It has been an exhausting two years for the parents of Lyndale's pupils, who have fought to save the school.

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Alex Brie, whose mum Chrissie fought tirelessly to keep his school open, enjoys the leavers' assembly 

Kim continued: "It has been a very difficult two years managing a school that is soon to close.

"Despite this, we have continued to deliver our multisensory curriculum and to fill each day with lots of wonderful experiences for our special children.

"The staff have been amazing and I commend them for their continued professionalism and positivity throughout the unsettled times.

"The children all have places in other special schools in Wirral.

“I would like to wish the children, parents, cares and families all the very best for the future.”

During countless meetings, parents made heart-rending pleas to the local authority.

They never gave up and, even when the fight to save the school ended, vowed to give their children the best time possible during their final months at Lyndale.

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From Left: Dawn Hughes and daughter Ellie, Jan Pickin, Chrissie Brie and son Alex, headteacher Kim Owen, Zoe Anderson and daughter Lily, Emma Leadbetter and daughter Neave following the leavers' assembly

Chrissie Brie, whose son Alex is one of the remaining pupils, played a leading role in the Save Lyndale group and the Friends of Lyndale, which was set up to raise funds towards their legal fight.

Speaking after the assembly, she said: "It's the end of an era, really. It's just so sad.

"This is not just a school, this is our family. We’re splitting up and it's not nice.

"Obviously, the parents have got to do what’s right, so each child will be going to their own school."

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Mia Wright and teacher Julie Lawrence take part in the assembly 

Some of the school's remaining pupils will start secondary education next year, including Alex who, along with fellow pupil Scott Howell, has been allowed to start at Foxfield early to avoid having to transition twice in two years.

Chrissie said: "It's a good school; new-build design and it is very well done.

"They understand that our children can't be integrated into main-stream school, so it gives you piece of mind that they are where they are.

"But it's overwhelming what happened.

"We never anticipated the response we would get, especially from the Wirral Globe's readers and the people of Wirral.

"I still get people contacting the Save Lyndale webpage now and it's not having to explain we are closing in July.

"We can't believe what the council have done to us.

"For some reason Wirral Council think they know better than everyone else. What they say goes and we can’t do anything about it.

"We've got to try to think positively, hopefully it will be a good thing."

Zoe Keene, mum to Lily and a parent governor, said: “It’s been an incredibly emotional day, awful.

"We've been dreading it for weeks and weeks.

"We've all managed to hold it together so far, but well how long that continues.

"I'm not looking forward to when Lily leaves next week, it's going to be awful; the end of an era.

“It’s very sad that Lyndale will no longer be here for all the new Lillies coming up.”

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Emma Smith and Alex Brie with teaching assistant Collete during the assembly

Dawn Hughes is a former parent governor and was chair of Friends Of Lyndale when it was created.

Daughter Ellie is leaving and will go to Meadowside School.

After today’s assembly Dawn said: "It's been lovely to see the children so happy.

"It's lovely to see the way the staff are with them, the kindness they treat them and the way they educate them and see to their every need.

"It's heart-rending.

"It was lovely to see the children enjoy themselves today, but there were a few tears shed.

"People are devastated at the break-up of what is, for most of us, a second family.

"That is the really hard thing."

Looking to the future, Dawn added: "The schools they are going to are great in themselves, but our children are going to take a long time to adjust.

"It's a very worrying and anxious time for lots of parents at the moment."

Praising staff, pupils and parents as the assembly ended, Tom Harney, chair of governors, said: "We all appreciate how difficult the last year has been for the school.

"Thanks to Kim Owen, my fellow governors and the Friends Of Lyndale for their support in difficult cirumstances.

"There are a huge number of people in the community who have given time and energy to help Kim."

Julia Hassall, Wirral's director of children's services, said: "We have always understood the strong feelings that met our plans to close the Lyndale School, and I hope that time will demonstrate that we only ever had the future wellbeing and education of the children at heart.

"Lyndale will always have a special place in the memories of the children who went there, the people who worked there, and the parents who were so closely associated with the school.

"We wish everyone well as they go on to build other happy memories at their new places of education and work."

Below: The poignant notice on display during leavers' assembly

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