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Award-winning former pupil drops in to Chapel primary school

Pupils at a Chapel primary school had a "super" time when they enjoyed a visit from a prominent former pupil.

Award-winning writer Oliver Sykes, 34, dropped in to Chapel-en-le-Frith CoE VC Primary School to share poems from his new children's book. 

Titled We Are Family: Six Kids and a Super-Dad, Oliver's first poetry collection tells tales from his Chapel childhood and pays tribute to his amazing single parent dad.

The book, Oliver's third, was launched last month by specialist children's publisher Otter Barry Books.

Students were invited to an interactive performance led by Oliver, where they were encouraged to join in by shouting out lines from the poems, stomping out rhythms with their feet and sharing some of their own experiences of growing up and family life. In the afternoon, Oliver led writing workshops with students from years 4 and 5.

Oliver brought a number of his poems to life, including one about receiving his first free school meal and others about his absent mum and favourite pastimes.

Oliver attended the school between 1994 and 2000 when it was called Warmbrook Junior School. His five siblings are all also former pupils. All the Sykes children went on to graduate from university, Oliver with a first in theatre studies, despite their challenging start in life. Oliver said he had fond memories of the classroom as a place full of books and learning

He said: "Coming back to my primary school to read poems about my childhood was a real full circle moment. 

"I run lots of workshops in schools, so it was not my first time back in a classroom. But this time it definitely felt different. Primary school was a very positive experience for me, and it was very special to come back and see a new Chapel generation doing so well."

Emma Prince, English subject leader, Chapel-en-le-Frith CE VC Primary School said: "It was great to have Oliver back in school where his journey began; he was a real inspiration to all of our children but especially some of our older boys who really enjoyed Oliver's poems about boxing. 

"We've already invited Oliver back into school next year for National Poetry Day and as a guest reading ambassador."

Robyn Piper, 10, said: "It was really funny and amazing to watch because he involved everyone in the hall with his poems and I really liked his poem about cheesy armpits!"

Jamie Fay, also 10, said: "I think his poems and books were really funny and I like the way it was all based on his family. In the afternoon Oliver also helped us to write a title and introduction to our own family stories and it really made me think that maybe one day I could be an author like him too."

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