29th September 2000 at 01:00
(Photograph) - A year in Our Lady's convent school, Loughborough

It was a birthday bonanza. To celebrate its 150th anniversary, this Leicestershire independent school raised pound;10,300 for a charity for the blind. The 500-plus pupils, aged from three to 18, took part in a year-long series of events, which included dressing in Victorian costume for a day, complete with slates and dunce's cap. There was an easter bonnet parade and a balloon race (the winner reached northern Holland). Parents took part in a sponsored walk and there was an old-girls' reunion - the oldest to attend was 92, and there was a message from another aged 97. The organiser, drama teacher Richard Watkins, said that although the school had a Catholic ethos, it welcomed pupils from other religions and throughout the year there were readings from different faiths on the theme of the eye; sources included the Koran and the Hindu epic the Mahabharata. Orbis, the charity the mney was raised for, works to eliminate preventable blindness around the world. It uses an aircraft converted into a flying hospital to perform operations and trains specialists to continue the work, which costs pound;15 for the average patient. The year ended with the performance of a mass composed by music teacher Noel Henry, but there will be a permanent reminder of the anniversary in the ceramic tiles around the school that were designed by pupils.

Snaps by Keith Morris

* It's the dunce's cap for Hannah Brown. Emma Barber and Felicite Miles are to her right

* Straw poll: Hesther Manshall in the easter bonnet parade

* Before computers: Georgiana Hunt does sums the Victorian way

* Ceramic tiles designed by reception class pupils and made in the Tile Museum, Ironbridge

* A birthday cake big enough for everyone

* Teachers Mary Hopkins, left, and Jeanette Matelot wear competing hats PE from 150 years ago

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