Southampton Football Club legend Franny Benali cut the ribbon at the grand unveiling of a transformed block at Thornden School.

The secondary school – based in Chandler’s Ford – unveiled their newly refurbished teaching area that took seven months and £900,000 to complete, as members of the Year 8 and Year 11 football teams braved the rain and got to meet one of their heroes.

Speaking after the unveiling, Caroline Lowing, interim head of the school, told the Echo: “We are so pleased that we can provide our students with a better learning experience in our new block.

“Every child deserves the very best and that is what we aim to provide at Thornden.

“We hope, in the future, to make even more improvements so that the students and staff at Thornden can be even prouder to be part of the Thornden family.”

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Daily Echo:

The refurbished area – which is the main block of the school – comes with a new colour scheme and newly installed sustainable windows that can keep the cold out in the winter months, with the building over 60 years old.

Caroline went on to say: “We wanted to celebrate this with a local hero so what better choice than Francis Benali?

“He is a Saints legend and has done so much for other charities and organisations.

“He is a real role model to our students, and we hope to work with him again in the future.”

Speaking after the ribbon cutting ceremony, Franny said he was keen to support the school having grown up in Southampton himself.

He said: “Being a boy born and raised in the city and going to school locally, it was really nice to be invited along.

“It’s great to see the work the school is doing, and it was a pleasure to play a small part in unveiling the new building today. I’ve had a chat with the team, and it seems like a really interesting project.”

The former Saints full-back also added that it’s important that these kind of projects get recognised.

Franny said: “Hopefully this will benefit all the kids in the long run, if you can have these kind of facilities, it will help build a really strong environment for them to learn, have fun, and get the most out of their education.”