Branscombe’s younger generation remembers the Napoli

Napoli 2007. Picture: Simon Horn

Napoli 2007. Picture: Simon Horn - Credit: Archant

Branscombe’s younger generation took a step back in time this week to mark the 10th anniversary of the MSC Napoli shipwreck.

Katie Gray, headteacher of Branscombe Primary School, was 18 months into the role when the 900ft-long vessel was beached.

Recalling her experiences, she said the children got involved within the community by participating in a beach clean and working with the Branscombe Project about the historic moment.

This week, the school revisited the events with pupils by organising a visit to the beach and a special assembly today (Friday) detailing the effect it had on the village.

Mrs Gray said: “It’s really important the children remember it. Especially those that live here - it’s a huge part of the history.”

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A decade ago, the school closed its doors for two days as heavy traffic gridlocked the village.

“My phone kept ringing [on the weekend] and it was Devon County Council asking, ‘are you going to close the school?’. They told me what had happened. We stayed open on the Monday, by then it was really busy with people trying to get in,” said Mrs Gray.

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After reopening later in the week, pupils also found themselves in front of the camera talking to reporters from CBBC’s Newsround.

Mrs Gray said: “The children were quite grown-up, they said it was exciting, but they were concerned about the environment and people’s belongings. They helped to collect tea towels and get oil off the beach.

“Lots of children shy away from the camera, but they were quite happy to talk. They said it was exciting at the time and were waiting for things to get back to normal.”

At the time, the pupils were learning about local history and ‘smugglers of the past’.

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