A NEW principal is thrilled to be leading a Cheshire school into the next decade.

Gary Evans, from Sandymoor, believes Winsford Academy has an exciting future.

Plans to develop £70 million world class sports facilities in the town could create countless opportunities for pupils.

A centre of excellence for women’s football, elite training facilities, a stadium, hotel, spa and conference centre are lined up.

“One of the things that attracted me to this post is that the school is the sole education partner of the Knights Grange complex. That is a really exciting project for the school."

Raising aspirations is one of his key goals.

“It’s all about giving students as many different opportunities as you can,” said Gary, who lives in Sandymoor with wife Jan, 16-year-old daughter and two step children aged 22 and 24.

“I want students to get the best experiences they can, once in a lifetime trips abroad, meeting employers, building careers."

Gary began as a French teacher and has taught in Widnes, Wigan and Liverpool and spent the past seven years as principal of Halewood Academy.

He starts his new job as 1,000 pupils and 130 teachers and support staff are working at home.

"It's all been very strange," said Gary, who celebrated his 50th birthday in lockdown. "I have been having online meetings with colleagues so I know my team before I start.

"They've all been working really hard during lockdown. The team has done a really good job.

"The main priority now is making sure the school is as safe as it can be for the return of students and staff."

Year 10 pupils are expected back from June 15.

"We hope to have around 40 students a day split into smaller groups for social distancing,"he said.

Gary praised the achievements of predecessor Amanda Harrison, who embarks on her second headship at Connahs Quay High School.

"My main focus is continuing some of great work the current head has done," said Gary. "I know how important the community is in Winsford.

"I am excited, I'm really looking forward to getting my teeth into this new job."

Keen runner Gary has completed an ultra marathon and several marathons.

A budding chef, he is an Everton season ticket holder and enjoys watching live concerts.