COMEDIAN Tony Hawks joined pupils, parents and community groups in the Teign Valley to celebrate the unveiling of two special projects at Christow Community School on Thursday.

A new classroom and covered play area, along with solar panels so the school can generate its own energy, were unveiled at the celebration event, which included entertainment for the children, stalls, games, music and barbecue.

As well as a 30-place classroom for the school’s youngest pupils, a new link corridor joins the main school building with the previously separate Hedgemoor classroom.

Tony Hawks, comedian and author, who lives in the Teign Valley, officially unveiled the new projects at the school on Wet Lane.

He said: “It’s a wonderful resource that everyone involved should rightly be proud of. It’s important that children are learning about being sustainable. It’s the way we have to go. We now have the opportunity to show children how it works practically and financially. It’s a win-win for the school.”

Headteacher Clare Bamford said: “What a great way to end the school year – by looking forward to the next with wonderful new facilities for the children.

“It was great to see so many parents and people from across the community join children and staff to celebrate. The new classroom is a lovely modern space, and the solar panels mean we can produce all our own energy, saving money and cutting carbon emissions.”

Christow Community School is part of the Templer Academy Schools Trust. Funding followed a successful £220,000 bid by the trust to the Department for Education, as part of the Academies Capital Maintenance Fund.

The school will save around £2100 a year, through generating its own electricity and selling surplus energy to the National Grid.

With digital displays in the school showing the amount of energy being generated and carbon being saved, the 10kWp set of panels will also allow the topic of sustainability to be taught in the classroom in new ways.

The solar panels, on the Hedgemoor classroom, are expected to generate 7.8 megawatt hours of electricity per year, saving over three tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.

Dominic Hollingsworth, chairman of governors, said: “A lot of effort has been put into both these projects by so many people, and inevitably, they have brought some disruption to the daily school routine. But we now have a highly flexible school space, and a more sustainable approach, that will benefit children for years to come.”

The PTFA helped fundraise with local people, community groups and businesses getting involved. Greener Teign environmental group helped advise and provide on-going support for the project.

Contributions to the solar panels included £5,000 from the EDF Energy Green Fund and £5,000 from Devon County Council, through its Invest in Devon programme.

Mary Roddick, of Greener Teign, said: “It has been exciting for Greener Teign to have been part of the four-year journey from the dream of the school taking the lead in community renewable energy, right through to fruition and seeing the panels go on the roof. It shows what dedicated effort from the community, plus help from the likes of Solar Schools, can achieve. It’s the way forward.”

Amy Cameron, Solar Schools Campaign Manager, 10:10, said: "We're absolutely thrilled to see Christow with their panels up and running ready for the summer sun. The collective effort involved just demonstrates the huge local support for both a vibrant local school and a low carbon future.”

The new classroom, which has A+ rated energy performance certification, replaces a 'temporary' wooden-clad classroom, erected more than 40 years ago.

Templer Academy Schools Trust is a partnership of four schools: Christow Community School, Coombeshead Academy, Rydon Primary School and Teign School in Kingsteignton.

MBS Build Ltd of Paignton has led on the building project.