BBC Springwatch presenter Chris Packham hails 'awesome' new Hartlepool school building on visit

Well-known TV presenter and environmental campaigner Chris Packham inspired students on a visit to a town school.

Friday, 17th September 2021, 8:09 am

The passionate wildlife expert, who fronts the BBC’s Springwatch and Autumnwatch series, spent the whole day at High Tunstall College of Science on Thursday, September 16, mixing with pupils and staff.

He praised High Tunstall’s impressive new £17 million new building and delivered the college’s fifth annual (STEM) lecture.

Chris said he was “in awe” of the school, adding: “I went to a school in the 1970s which compared to this was primitive.

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High Tunstall College of Science pupils (left to right) Tom Short (head boy) Macey Fleetham-Reid (head girl) Cassie Gray (deputy head girl and Sam Miller (deputy head boy) photographed with TV presenter and naturalist Chris Packham. Picture by Frank Reid

"I’ve seen virtual reality goggles, classrooms which are clean and fully facilitated and lots of great art on the walls.

"It looks like a very healthy place for learning which is absolutely fantastic.”

He spent the day interacting with staff and students including joining in lessons, answering questions and judging the summer school’s habitat competition.

It was Chris’s first visit to a school since Covid.

Chris delivering the STEM lecture to pupils. Picture by Frank Reid

He followed an impressive roll call of public figures to give the lecture including Professor Robert Winston, Britain’s first astronaut Helen Sharman and Microsoft chief Dave Coplin.

Chris, 60, added: “Young people need inspiration. A few external people coming in to explain that the world can be their oyster and how to go about realising that is really important.”

He gave the lecture twice to a total of 330 enthusiastic pupils in the theatre hall with the rest of the school watching in class on a live stream.

Chris talked about his childhood including being bullied and the things that made him who is today including wildlife, art, and music.

TV presenter and naturalist Chris Packham delivering the the 2021 STEM lecture to pupils at High Tunstall College of Science. Picture by Frank Reid

Speaking about his love of wildlife photography, he told them: “It’s really important you find something where you can feel good about yourself.”

He also touched on autism and his asperger’s diagnosis, saying more people speaking about it leads to better understanding.

Chris had been due to visit High Tunstall last March but it was postponed with the nationwide outbreak of Covid.

Headteacher Mark Tilling said: “We’re over the moon. It’s absolutely fantastic to have Chris come up.

"It’s a great inspiration for the young people to see someone who has succeeded so much in life being part of our school and engaging with us.”

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