EMOTIONS were running high at Willowdown Primary Academy at the opening of a new garden in memory of beloved headteacher Nick Riddiough who passed away two years ago aged 39.

Children, teachers, parents and members of Mr Riddiough's family gathered for a moving ceremony at the school on Thursday afternoon where the new outdoor classroom and firepit were unveiled.

Mr Riddiough's parents Dina and Colin said they were 'very proud' after doing the honours and cutting the ribbon.

"It was a very proud moment, even now we are still hearing new stories about Nick. He was not one to blow his own whistle, but is amazing to see the impact he had on the children, it was lovely to hear the tributes," Colin said.

"I know this garden is something Nick wanted to do and it is fantastic the school are making this happen."

Willowdown Primary Academy was opened in 2014 with Mr Riddiough as the headteacher, but he suddenly fell and passed away on February 3, 2016.

"Nick brought a vision of of exploratory and expeditionary learning for the school, where real and relevant experiences formed the basis from which the children would learn," explained assistant headteacher Andrew Venn. "It is good to see his legacy continuing."

There are further plans for a new storytelling chair as well as a canopy, and the school will be launching an appeal to help fund a new pond.

Mr Venn also read a touching tribute from one of the parents, Amy Davey.

"One of the thing that struck me about Nick was how he never seemed to feel the cold. Every morning he would stand there in a t-shirt and sleeveless vest and greet the children as they walked in," Mrs Davey said.

"He would say hello to everyone - he knew the name of every child, every parent, every sibling and even the dogs."

One of the children spoke of how he used to get angry and frustrated in lessons but said because Mr Riddiough took him aside and listened to him rather than just telling him off, he managed to turn his behaviour around.

Ollie Priestley, the current Willowdown headmaster, said: "Nick encouraged this sort of learning and this will enable his vision to live on. It is good to be able to continue his work here at Willowdown Primary Academy."