HUNDREDS of former students and staff visited Benton Park School one last time to bid a fond farewell before the building's closure and demolition.

After years of planning, designing and building, the £28.5 million new school premises is almost complete. And when the move is made this Autumn the doors to the old building will be closed for good.

More than 600 people went to the school on Saturday to say a last goodbye. They had the chance to tour the building to visit their old classrooms, and view exhibitions of photographs and memorabilia from across the years - with many spotting themselves and their classmates in the displays. Visitors were entertained with music played by current Benton Park students and listened to reminiscences from key people with links to the school.

Guests at the event travelled from far and wide to be reunited with old school friends - and retired deputy headteacher Richard Hoban, was among those who joined in the celebrations.

Mr Hoban described the event as "a wonderful, emotional and brilliantly organised day to mark the end of an era of a great school'.

He added: "The next chapter in the New Benton Park's story will be even better."

Current Headteacher, Delia Martin, has been instrumental in driving forward the developments of the new school and she said she was honoured to welcome back so many people and to hear their stories.

Some of the school's earliest students attended. One visitor had been part of the first cohort of students to progress through five years at the school between 1961-1966. A couple who attended shared their story about how they met at school and have now been married for 34 years.

Another group included three generations who had attended Benton Park.

Miss Martin said she had been grateful for the support from the area's MP Stuart Andrew and from councillors throughout the new build developments. She invited Mr Andrew, Cllr Jonathan Pryor and Leader of the Council, James Lewis, for one final tour of the building.

Mr Andrew, who represent Pudsey, Horsforth and Aireborough, said: “Everyone at Benton Park arranged a fantastic day with a host of exhibitions and displays showing the history of the old school. It was great to see so many former members of staff and pupils reminiscing about their time there. Clearly there were a lot of happy memories for those attending and a sense of excitement as the school prepares to move into its brand new building that will offer superb facilities for local students.”

Cllr Jonathan Pryor, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Economy, Culture and Education on Leeds City Council said:"Cllr Lewis and I really enjoyed our day at Benton Park School and it was lovely to see so many people sharing memories of the old school building as they prepare to move to a bright future in the new one. I look forward to seeing future generations enjoy the new facilities as they progress through the school.”

Miss Martin said: “This nostalgic event was an absolutely great success full of emotion, laughter and memories and it was clear to see how much the school meant to everyone who attended. As this special chapter in the school’s history draws to a close, I feel privileged to lead the school as we look forward with excitement to a new stage in our history beginning and to many more happy memories being created for future generations.”

Anyone who was unable to attend the event but would like to share memories they have from their school days can send these to the school by emailing