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Olympic star Lizzy Yarnold opens Maidstone Grammar School for Girls' sports hall

By Joshua Coupe

Olympic golden girl Lizzy Yarnold inspired a generation when she returned to her secondary school to open its new sports hall.

The British skeleton racer gave a short talk to pupils, governors and teachers at Maidstone Grammar School for Girls as she cut the ribbon of the £1m hall on Monday.

Lizzy, who won gold in the skeleton event at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, was a pupil at the school in Buckland Road between 1999 and 2007.

Head teacher Deborah Stanley, Bernie Tipples and Lizzy Yarnold cut the ribbon

Head teacher Deborah Stanley, Bernie Tipples and Lizzy Yarnold cut the ribbon

She said: “I’m so pleased that pupils will get to enjoy this amazing new sports hall, but I really will miss the old one.

“I loved growing into the person I am at this school – the cold changing rooms with the creaky doors, the smell of damp and the dusty walls are all memories of my time here.

“This is going to give generations of pupils the chance to perform and do better than ever before.”

Pupils will use the hall for PE and dance lessons

Pupils will use the hall for PE and dance lessons

The hall, which will cater for sports including netball, football and rowing, was named in memory of former pupil and chairman of governors Molly Tipples who died last Wednesday following a long illness.

Her daughter, Melanie Nutting , fought back tears as she read a message on behalf of the family.

She said: “Mum never liked doing speeches but I know she would have been so proud of everyone who has worked on the new hall.

The hall is named after Molly Tipples

The new hall is named after Molly Tipples

“Our whole family are so proud that the school has named the hall after her.”

Mrs Tipples attended the girls’ grammar between 1954 and 1959 and was on the governing body since 2004.

Head teacher Deborah Stanley added: “She just loved this school. Throughout her life she gave so generously and I’m sure on occasions her family must have despaired at the many hours Molly spent here.

Lizzy Yarnold inspired pupils

Lizzy Yarnold inspired pupils

“She also had such a passion for sports and, in particular, a real love for tennis. It’s an honour to be able to name the hall after her.”

Miss Stanley added that the process wasn’t without its challenges. Construction began in last July but was delayed last November when the firm behind it went into administration.

WW Martin was appointed to finish the project late last year and finished at the start of April.

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