Back-to-school memories in September

Hillside Specialist School. Ribchester Road, Longridge
Hillside Specialist School. Ribchester Road, Longridge

So it’s September and most of the schools are all back in the swing of things.

The new mums were probably a bit teary waving off their little one as they started reception and for some it was the first day at high school.

Allan Blackburn, Owner of GB Antiques Centre and Lancaster Leisure Park

Allan Blackburn, Owner of GB Antiques Centre and Lancaster Leisure Park

I am at the other end of my children's education, as they are all grown up now. However, I am often reminded of my youngest daughters schooling, as I still see her teachers and they always ask me how she is.

Mel is now 30 and has severe autism. From the age of four she went to The Scotforth House Special School.

We live in Preston and her schooling coincided with me opening GB Antiques Centre. In fact, I have no excuse for forgetting her birthday as we opened the centre on August 30 and only a few days later on September 4, Mel turned five and went to the school.

Logistically it made sense to bring Mel to a Lancaster school as it meant myself and my wife, Gloria, could do the school run and be nearby if we were needed.

It was one of only two schools in the area that specialised in autism. Things were obviously very different then for families with a disabled child.

Nowadays children on the spectrum are more easily diagnosed and there is lot more help available. Twenty-five years ago places were scarce and because of this Scotforth School was over crowded.

Designed to house just 25 children, when it closed in about 1994 there were 40 children there.

I was chairman of the governors for the school and was very happy with its facilities and staff. I still can’t speak highly enough of it. Mel was very happy there.

She moved to Hillside School, Longridge, when she was nine and as Scotforth had closed, a lot of her teachers went there too, so the transition was a smooth one and not as unsettling as it could have been.

Hillside was a wonderful school with lots of open spaces and room for 150 children.

She was there until she was 16 and then she finished her education at Pear Tree School, Kirkham, when she was 19.

The teachers still come into the antiques centre and ask after her. Many of her teachers still live around here and it’s lovely to think, that they think enough of her to still be concerned about her health and happiness after 20 years.