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Paralympian Derek Derenalagi officially opens £29m special needs school in Brent

PUBLISHED: 16:34 31 March 2014 | UPDATED: 16:34 31 March 2014

Former soldier turned paralympian, Derek Derenalagi, officially opened the multi-million pound construction (pic credit: Justin W Thomas)

Former soldier turned paralympian, Derek Derenalagi, officially opened the multi-million pound construction (pic credit: Justin W Thomas)

Justin W Thomas

A former soldier turned paralympian, who lost his legs to a roadside bomb in Afghanistan, will commemorate the £29 million construction of a special needs school opening in Brent.

Derek Derenalagi, 39, who represented Great Britain at the discus throwing event during the London 2012 Paralympics Games, cut the yellow ribbon to celebrate the official opening of The Village in Grove Park.

The Fijian-born athlete shared his inspirational story on his journey to an audience of more than 200 pupils aged two to 19 with complex learning difficulties and disabilities.

The multimillion pound build is the council’s largest ever investment in special educational needs provision.

A section of the building’s flat roof has been transformed into a running track and play area and there is a self-contained flat within the school, which has been designed to give older pupils independence and choice and the chance to learn important life skills.

Other notable features include therapy, sensory and calm rooms, a hydrotherapy pool and a MUGA multi-use games area and woodland walk.

Kay Johnson, headteacher, said: “We are particularly honoured to have Derek open our amazing building; he is such a fine role model for our pupils. They have an excellent track record in disability sports competitions so having him here means the world to them.”

Councillor Michael Pavey, lead member for children and families at Brent Council, said: “The new Village School is a fantastic example of what can be achieved when we all work together.

“Pupils with special educational needs deserve a service which is second to none. This inspirational building will provide the best possible care and education.

“I want to thank everyone who has been involved in this project for their commitment and hard work.”

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