St Aidan’s Derrylin celebrated their prize night recently with Principal, Pat McTeggart, congratulating, pupils, staff, board of governors and the community for ensuring that St Aidan’s is a “vibrant school”.

Mr McTeggart refereed to the great strides that the school has made over recent times:

“Approximately 7 years ago we had a posy of representatives from the CCMS coming down to Fermanagh and painting a very gloomy picture regarding the future of the school, we were told that the school didn’t meet all the 6 criteria laid out in the Sustainable Schools Policy in particular our enrolment and finance were of great cause for concern. We were told that a proposal had been put forward for an amalgamation of schools, a back door to closure, thankfully you people in this hall rejected that synopsis.”

Speaking about the academic success achieved by the school Mr McTeggart stated that:

“last year was the best set of results on record and this will place us as one of the highest achieving schools in Northern Ireland. This is down to the hard work of the pupils whose application and perseverance ensured that they got the grades that their work deserved. These results would not be possible without the professionalism of our staff and I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their dedication and resolution.”

He went on to highlight how despite projections St Aidan’s had grown and could boast an enrolment of 220 pupils, 50 up on that of seven years ago.

“This turnaround is because you the parents and you the pupils decided to support the school in increasing numbers and I want to thank you for that. I would also like to acknowledge the great support of our feeder schools and the principals and teachers some who are present here tonight which is critical if St Aidan’s is to continue to grow and I would ask parents who have children who are due to transfer to support this school which is a high achieving school with a caring pastoral ethos,” the Principal explained.

Guest of honour at the prize night was former pupil, Olivia Rana.

Mrs Rana is the acclaimed author of “Elastic Girl” set in India, who also lectures in novel writing at Queens University Belfast. In her first novel Mrs Rana chose the birthplace of her Indian in-laws as the setting for a moving story of a young girl sold to a circus by her parents.

Speaking about her time at the school she relayed many fond memories and how there was a sense of togetherness in the school:

“That is what is unique about St Aidan’s – that complete sense of community and belonging. Of course, back then as students, we didn’t really recognise or appreciate what we had here. But in years to come when you are a mother or a father, when you are living away somewhere else and have your own career, you will look back and realise how St. Aidan’s and this community here has made an impact on who you are and in what you are doing.”

She told assembled guests and students that her dream of becoming a writer was something that she had to pursue and that there were many disappointments to overcome but that persistence and the ability to come back from rejection are vitally important:

“And what I would say to you is to appreciate what you have here at St Aidan’s because it is special, to embrace every opportunity you get, even when it might frighten you, or when there is a risk of failure, and when things get tough, as they inevitably will, dig deep, find your perseverance and keep on going. If you do that you will undoubtedly achieve great things.”