Video: The day a helicopter touched down on a Norwich school

PO Kara Hillyard, who grew up in Bungay, arrives in a Royal Navy helicopter at Stoke Holy Cross Primary where mum Sandra works and grandmother Helen Holbrook came to see her visit.
Photo by Simon Finlay. PO Kara Hillyard, who grew up in Bungay, arrives in a Royal Navy helicopter at Stoke Holy Cross Primary where mum Sandra works and grandmother Helen Holbrook came to see her visit. Photo by Simon Finlay.

Elise Jermy
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
8:51 AM

Playgrounds usually pay host to children playing games, laughter and excitement. The latter was certainly evident when a helicopter touched down at Stoke Holy Cross Primary School yesterday (Tuesday May 20).

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PO Kara Hillyard, who grew up in Bungay, arrives in a Royal Navy helicopter at Stoke Holy Cross Primary where mum Sandra works.
Photo by Simon Finlay.PO Kara Hillyard, who grew up in Bungay, arrives in a Royal Navy helicopter at Stoke Holy Cross Primary where mum Sandra works. Photo by Simon Finlay.

And while the visit delighted excited pupils it was also a proud moment for school secretary Sandra Hillyard whose daughter was on board.

The entire school, rated “outstanding’’ by Ofsted last year, waited in anticipation as the aircraft appeared in the wonderfully clear sky, a rare moment of cooperation of the British weather.

The aircraft, a Lynx mark 8, circled the school three times, with each round generating a more energetic applause than the last. All watching marvelled at the incredibly precise navigation of the aircraft as it found its way to the designated landing area; the school’s playground.

Naval pilot Will Thornton and flight commander Sally Lawrence-Archer, who organised the visit, conducted the successful landing of the aircraft.

PO Kara Hillyard, who grew up in Bungay, arrives in a Royal Navy helicopter at Stoke Holy Cross Primary where mum Sandra works.
Photo by Simon Finlay.PO Kara Hillyard, who grew up in Bungay, arrives in a Royal Navy helicopter at Stoke Holy Cross Primary where mum Sandra works. Photo by Simon Finlay.

The thrilling whirlwind created by the aircraft’s blades seemed to reflect the ecstatic atmosphere, with some of the pupils exclaiming: “It was awesome, I really liked it! It was bigger than I thought, and really windy!”

The visit was particularly special for Sandra Hillyard, the school’s secretary of four and half years, as her daughter, Cara Hillyard, helped to land the aircraft.

“It was amazing, I’m very, very proud,” said the mum from Ditchingham, near Bungay.

Cara, 25, has been a Petty Officer in the Royal Navy for seven years, and was part of this routine task which began at RNAS Yeovilton.

Alongside impressing her mother and the school, Cara also presented her grandmother Helen Holbrook, with flowers for her birthday. Helen was delighted and expressed how proud Cara’s grandfather would have been, as he too was in the Royal Navy.

Cara, who works on and maintains the aircraft, is due to receive an award next week, which acknowledges her achievement of attaining the highest overall marks for her Petty Officer qualification course.

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