YOUNG athletes made memories and friends forever on the playing fields as an annual sporting extravaganza was hosted for the first time in two years.

Barnard Castle School welcomed students from across the North of England and Scotland for a festival of hockey and rugby, the first since pandemic lockdown measures were eased.

In perfect conditions, pupils battled it out on the rugby fields and Astroturf in a carnival atmosphere enjoyed by a host of parents and families on the touchlines.

The two-day spectacle saw Barnard Castle School boys and girls, aged up to 11, play peers from Yarm School, Durham School, Newcastle School for Boys, Dame Allan’s School, Newcastle, Ashville College, Harrogate, Harrogate Grammar School, Prince Henry Grammar School, Otley, Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Wakefield, Hymers College, Hull, Bradford Grammar School, The Rodillian Academy, Lofthouse, a number of Scottish schools, as well as club sides from Darlington Mowden Park and Darlington RFU.

Barnard Castle School headmaster Tony Jackson told players and spectators: “This has been an absolute spectacle, magnificent, and it’s been so great to see it back. I have bumped into people here today who I have not seen for more than 25 years, since I attended events like this, and I’m sure our young people today have made memories and friends forever through sport.

“This has also been a great opportunity for our older students, who have been refereeing the matches. It make me very proud to see them officiating over such a high standard of sport and I think they have learned a lot in the process. I’d also like to thank all the staff and coaches whose dedication and expertise allow events such as these to happen.”

Girls took part in a hockey competition named after former headmaster David Ewart, while boys and girls played rugby in the Tait 10s, named in honour of Old Barnardians Mathew and Alex Tait, who went on to have successful careers in professional rugby union at club and international levels.