Hackney Primary gets dining room

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A student of Hackney Primary School cuts the ceremonial ribbon at the entrance of the dining hall in the presence of headmistress Verna Naomi Jack and Pomeroon Trading CEO, Duncan Turnbull (left standing), among others guests

SEVENTY students will benefit from a newly-constructed dining room at Hackney Primary School, Pomeroon River, Region Two, after British businessman Duncan Turnbull started his first community outreach and donation there.

Turnbull is CEO of Pomeroon Trading, a Guyanese-registered company which is leased some 700- acre of farmland in the Pomeroon.

Financed by investors from the UK and the Caribbean, the company is working to restore a neglected estate to its former glory.

The development at the school was celebrated with over a 100 guests, some of whom were investors from across the world. They were treated to a programme that featured songs, dances, speeches and prayers.

Students utilising a section of the dining area

Pomeroon Trading is working in partnership with National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) and Caribbean Agricultural Research Development Institute (CARDI) to develop the Caribbean’s largest coconut seedling nursery in the Pomeroon.

According to Turnbull, the company has a strong community outreach programme focused on education and empowerment of women and girls.

Prior to the construction of the dining room, pupils used to eat outside in the sun or inside the classroom. The new dining room connects to a kitchen and has extensive seating and facilities including a hand-washing station.

A former pupil Ted English, now a carpenter, who worked on the project, said it is a reflection of good corporate social responsibility.

“All children deserve a nutritious lunch in a clean and safe environment. This improves educational attainment and reduces truancy. We’re delighted to do our part and work with Hackney Primary School to foster education in the Pomeroon,” Turnbull said.

The Hackney Primary School

He added: “And to the girls out there, know that education gives you the opportunity to go out and be a new generation of working women. Girls do better than boys, on average, at school. Girls work harder and are more naturally intelligent. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t go out and rule the world. My female classmates have gone on to be doctors, creators of innovative companies, and inventors building technology products.

My country, the UK, has a female prime minister, the most powerful politician in the land. But girls, to make this happen, you need to finish school. When you finish school you gain skills, independence and confidence. You are the empowered to go out in the world and improve your lives and the lives of those around you. I urge you from the bottom of my heart to finish school.”

Headmistress of Hackney Primary School Verna Naomi Jack welcomed the initiative, pointing out that the kitchen was donated by a church and the dining hall complements the needs of the school.

“Pupils will be afforded the privilege of dining in comfort in a well-ventilated natural air conditioned dining hall,” she said.

The guests at the simple handing over ceremony include representatives of the government, the Director of NAREI and CARDI, and 20 international visitors from England, America and New Zealand.

Hackney Primary has a population of 70 students and is one of several government schools in the Pomeroon. The school is a 30-minute drive from the Charity Wharf.

Prior to the new dining room, the children had to eat outside (in the sun) or inside the classroom as there was no dedicated dining area.

The room is constructed in local traditional style using local materials and local craftsmen.