THE sky was filled with balloons as cricket umpire legend Dickie Bird opened a new academy and helped raise £1,500 for charity.
Harold “Dickie” Bird was the guest of honour at a special ceremony at St James Academy in Crigglestone.
He was greeted by hundreds of spectators at the school, formerly known as St James J&I School, on Tuesday.
Headteacher Colleen Gibson said: “It was a fabulous day. We had all the staff, governors and parents there.
“All 315 pupils released a balloon for the occasion, each with thoughts of the future in mind.
“We were delighted that Dickie accepted our invitation and could attend.”
Among the guests were local nurse Karen Townend, 50, who brought along the Olympic torch she carried through Wakefield last week.
Representatives from Wakefield Wildcats and Wakefield FC were also invited to the community open day at the school, on St James Way.
Mrs Gibson said: “The feedback from the event has been fantastic.
“All of us here at the academy really appreciated all the help we received from everyone involved.
“Local business contributed great raffle prizes. Piggin’ Fantastic provided us with a hog roast and Balloonin’ Marvellous, which provided the balloons, made a donation.”
The money raised will be shared between the Dickie Bird Foundation, which helps disadvantaged young people to participate in sport, and fund the building of an outdoor music zone.
The project will pay tribute to Madison Small, a nine-year-old pupil at the school who tragically died in June.
Academy status will provide the school access to extra grants and funding, give them more control over the curriculum and more freedom in recruiting staff.
Mrs Gibson said: “Despite the status change, the values of the church school remain as strong as ever.”
After the opening ceremony and the balloon release the children enjoyed a fair with games and stalls they had designed themselves.
Later on in the day the academy’s samba group and choir provided the entertainment with a special performance for Mr Bird and their parents, grandparents and teachers who were in the crowd.