Messages of hope and inspiration

Sheriff of Norwich Derek James meets an inspirational archbishop at the opening of the Open Academy.

It was fitting that an archbishop should open this 'cathedral of learning' and the atmosphere was electric as he walked forward to do the honours and then turned to his 'congregation.'

No-one was sure what to expect when the Most Rev Dr John Sentamu started to speak. He is that sort of man, unpredictable and inspirational.

The Archbishop of York is a man who keeps others on their toes. There is something very special about him. 'Come on,' he said. 'Yes you, the ones who helped us in the car park,' and a group of nervous looking students slowly stepped forward. He then had them pulling apart and pulling together – illustrating the value of pulling together and raising a smile at the same time.

The Archbishop was in Norwich to open the Open Academy, the first school of its kind in the county, which replaces Heartsease High. How right he was when he said it has the 'wow' factor – this is a stunning building and, as the Archbishop pointed out, it is not for the teachers or the parents, it is for the children.

This is the largest wood framed structure in the country, built with the environment in mind – it really is a cathedral of learning. One we can all be proud of.