THE Princess Royal officially opened the Sycamore Building at Fairmead School, Yeovil, today (Friday, October 22) and toured the facilities being enjoyed by students, staff and the community.

The new building, funded with a £6.85million investment from Somerset County Council, was completed in the summer holiday ahead of the start of the academic year.

It replaces six classrooms, creates a further six classrooms and features a state-of-the-art sports facility.

Fairmead School caters for children and young people aged four to 19 with moderate learning difficulties and autistic spectrum disorder.

The new classrooms allow for a growth in pupil admissions from 100 to 140.

On arrival, The Princess Royal was met by the Deputy Lieutenant for Somerset, Lucilla Nelson, who introduced headteacher Tracy Felstead, along with staff, students and county council representatives.

Princess Anne joined lessons to see students learning science, mathematics and life skills and was given a demonstration of the Immersive Experience Room, which provides students with sensory and learning experiences.

She watched the school choir sign and sing This is Me from the film The Greatest Showman before unveiling a plaque to mark her visit.

Mrs Felstead said: “Her Royal Highness’s visit has been the highlight of our school year.

"I could not think of a more fitting way to mark the start of this exciting new era for our school and our community.

"We are all so delighted with the modern, bright and calm new learning environments this project has created.

“It was a privilege to meet The Princess and I was pleased to have the opportunity to thank her on behalf of all the staff and students for taking the time to visit us.”

Cllr Frances Nicholson, Somerset County Council's lead member for children’s services, said: “It is exciting to see all the changes at Fairmead School.

"The new building is a valuable facility and will really support Somerset’s children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities and their families.

“This is the latest in a series of key projects to secure strong local educational provision for children and young people with complex needs for many years to come, and I look forward to seeing how the children and young people at Fairmead enjoy, and benefit from, their new facilities.”

UK Construction West, ISG, was the contractor for the project.