Oasis Academy are extremely proud and honoured to have played a key role in the visit to the Isle of Sheppey by HRH The Duke of Kent on Thursday 5th April. The Duke was on the island to view a number of projects, one of which he asked to see was the Dockyard Church Project.

The Sheerness Dockyard Church is an architectural masterpiece, but was sadly, badly damaged by fire in 2001. It is one of the most important buildings at risk in the South of England.

The Sheerness Dockyard Preservation Trust was set up to repair and transform the Dockyard Church and in 2017 the Trust was awarded £4.75m from the National Lottery Fund, with £500,000 received to develop a community-led project for transforming the building as a hub for business, arts and tourism. The further £4.25m will become available on the successful completion of the development phase.

The Duke had asked to meet two of the students involved with the scheme. Lillie May Gammon and Archie Stewart have been part of a ten strong team of Oasis Academy students who have been working on the Dockyard Church Project for the last fourteen months.

The team of students have worked with Dr William Butler from the University of Kent to produce ‘Tales of Sheerness Dockyard Church’. They have spent many hours interviewing people who have memories of the Dockyard Church, had them recorded and transcribed Their work will be seen on The Dockyard Church website. The students’ work has been shown by Dr Butler at Faversham History Society and by Dr Butler, Lillie and Archie at the Bluetown Heritage Centre.

Suffice to say, Lillie and Archie were a little nervous when we told them who they were meeting, as we told them only half an hour before meeting the Duke due to security reasons.

The Duke was in the house of William Palin, Chair of the Sheerness Dockyard Preservation Trust Trustees, and son of TV personality Michael. Will Palin has a house near to the Dockyard Church and has played a pivotal role in driving the work forward on this project.

The Duke spent time talking to Lillie and Archie, discussing with them their work. The Duke praised the students for their efforts and encouraged them to keep working on this important scheme.

The Duke felt the contribution of all our students has made a positive difference to the project. The Duke then went on a tour of the Dockyard Church before inviting the students to join his party for lunch at Will Palin’s home.

Both Lillie and Archie were superb and we thank them for their wonderful contribution to the day and the last fourteen months. As an Academy we would like to thank Allison Young and Dr Will Butler for their support and encouragement with the project and to Will Palin for his invitation and hospitality today. Lillie and Archie thank the Duke of Kent for the photo opportunity – a rare opportunity and a great honour.