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West Row Academy near Bury St Edmunds, Newmarket and Mildenhall is thanked by American family for special welcome

A village primary school has been praised for the special way it has welcomed American families.

Wes and Elaine Auldridge have saluted staff at West Row Academy, in West Row, near Mildenhall, Newmarket and Bury St Edmunds, as they prepare to leave Suffolk and return to America with their three children.

The couple, who used to be in the military, moved to West Row four years ago to support young military servicemen and women as part of the Christian organisation, Cadence International, primarily working with RAF Lakenheath.

Tessa with her parents Elaine and Wes outside West Row Academy. Picture: Gooderham PR
Tessa with her parents Elaine and Wes outside West Row Academy. Picture: Gooderham PR

Two of their children, Ada and Silas, have now moved into secondary education while their youngest, nine-year-old Tessa, will be leaving West Row Academy this week as the family prepare to move to Missouri.

Elaine, who met Wes in West Row when they were originally stationed in the area, said “It is with bittersweetness that we make this move.

“It will be the first significant time our children have lived in the US and we have so many cherished years in England.

“From the very first impressions when we were made to feel so welcome, we have had fantastic experiences with our teachers at West Row and our children have made very dear friendships.”

In a message to staff at the school, Elaine added: “Thank you for welcoming transient families into your community. It has been extremely beneficial to feel so much like we belong here. I don’t think any of us Americans can ever really communicate how special that is.”

Elaine said the family loved the fact West Row was a village school and played such a big part in the community.

Wes, a former parent governor at the school, said: “Tessa is a social butterfly and will be sad to leave West Row. She loves the school, her teachers and her classmates.”

Headteacher Elisabeth Close said: “At West Row, we enjoy getting to know all of our families and endeavour to build strong relationships with them.

“Our school community understands some of our families are a long way from home and away from their support networks.

“We work with all parents to ensure their children have a settled start at West Row and work hard to provide support for children and families throughout their time with us.

“We wish the Auldridge family lots of luck in all their new adventures. We are heartened that they take many happy memories with them and hope wherever they, and all our families go, they remember they will always be part of Team West Row.”

The family are now preparing to continue their work providing support to military personnel who are often stationed away for the first time.