People

11th July 2008 at 01:00
Prince Edward may be royalty, but he is not vested with the power to part water, which is what Sean Atkinson, 10, needs if he is to get to school each day
Prince Edward may be royalty, but he is not vested with the power to part water, which is what Sean Atkinson, 10, needs if he is to get to school each day.

Sean lives on Holy Island, an important Christian settlement off the Northumberland coastline.

The island's 160 residents can get to the mainland via a causeway that is open for seven or eight hours at low tide. When the school day does not coincide with this, Sean cannot get to Berwick Middle School.

His mum and dad wanted him to board at Longridge Towers School, but no places were available. And Northumberland council has not provided the private tuition they asked for, so Sean's parents sought Royal intervention.

Sean's father is not asking Prince Edward to part the Red Sea - just the red tape of bureaucracy.

So, when the Earl of Wessex visited the island, Mr Atkinson borrowed the blackboard from the pub he runs, rubbed off the stottie sandwich special and wrote: "HRH. HELP!! Our son needs schooling."

"I didn't want to spoil the visit by standing there chatting to him," he said. "I just wanted to grab some attention." He certainly did that, moving on after police expressed concern about his presence.

A council spokesman said Holy Island posed educational challenges due to its unique position, but officials were in contact with the family in an attempt to find a solution.

Sean, apparently, is not too worried. His dad said: "Like any 10-year-old, he thinks it's great when he doesn't have to go to school."

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