A Warwick couple who turned their home into a school to help the lives of bullied children have had their compassion rewarded with a Pride of Britain award.
Fred and Vivian Morgan won special recognition from judges of the annual ceremony for everything they have done to try to make sure bullied children like 15-year-old Simone Grice are helped.
Three years ago, the pair opened up their Hatton home to children across the country after reading the “heartbreaking” story of the teenager who killed herself after being bullied at school.
The now retired couple decided to help and went on to convert their 10-bedroomed home into what is now Northleigh House School, to help save lives and make sure other children do not feel alone.
Speaking about her passion to help make a difference, 72-year-old Vivian said: “We wanted to do something useful with it that would benefit people. When I read in the paper about Simone, I thought there had to be a better way.
“This girl had her mobile phone in one hand and her teddy in the other, I just thought it was so awful for a child to get to that point.”
There shouldn’t be a need for us, really, but I’m just glad what we are doing is useful.Vivian Morgan
The couple - who gave up their successful curtain business to focus on the school, now have 17 secondary school pupils - half of who have tried to kill themselves.
Children aged between 11 and 16 are referred there by council, often because they are too depressed to attend mainstream school and are in danger of harming themselves.
Vivian said: “About half the children have tried to kill themselves. They all say it is to escape the fear. It is heartbreaking. I’ve seen texts sent to pupils telling them to kill themselves. It is horrific.
“There shouldn’t be a need for us, really, but I’m just glad what we are doing is useful.”
Northleigh House School follows the national curriculum and is subject to Ofsted inspections. Pupils study core subjects and are taught by a staff of 28 teachers who mostly work part time.
They are also encouraged to explore other areas such as cookery, photography, Japanese and piano playing.
With more than 25 pupils graduating so far and going on to college, university or jobs, Fred Morgan said it was “satisfying and wonderful” to see them blossom.
He said: “Children won’t speak when they come in. They all look at the floor and are highly anxious. But by the time they leave, they are doing the usual teenager things.
“They have often been bullied for various reasons and sometimes no reason. They lose confidence and it is difficult for them to get out of it on their own.
“But there is a sense of community between them her, they are very sympathetic to each other. It is lovely to have them in our home. We look forward to every day.”
The Morgans receive some funding to keep the school running but are now working to establish a fund that will keep the scheme going for years in the future.
After impressing judges in the Daily Mirror’s Pride of Britain Awards, the pair will receive a special award on stage on Monday. The ceremony will be broadcast on ITV on Thursday October 1 at 8pm.
The awards were set up 17 years ago to praise stories of selflessness and courage.