Anger at ‘disrespectful’ name change of Hornchurch school named after hero pilot Sanders Draper

'Selfless Hero' by Barry Weekley, to commemorate the 69th anniversary of the pilot's death

'Selfless Hero' by Barry Weekley, to commemorate the 69th anniversary of the pilot's death - Credit: Archant

A mother whose sons went to Sanders Draper School has criticised the “disrespectful” and “offensive” name change that saw the surname of the hero pilot it was named after dropped from its title.

In 1943, Raimund Sanders Draper experienced an engine failure after he took off from RAF Hornchurch in a Spitfire.

His plane was destined for the school building packed with students. In order to save their lives, he sacrificed his own by crash landing into the school’s playing field.

To recognise his noble efforts, the school was renamed Sanders Draper School on the 30th anniversary of his death. But last month it was shortened to Sanders School.

Linda France, 68, of Cranham Road, Hornchurch, said: “I think it’s absolutely disgusting and disrespectful to this brave man to now just name the school Sanders and change it’s school badge. I find it offensive.

“There are some of the children that this hero saved still alive, they must feel the name change is an insult to Sanders Draper and his existing family.

“This is a very sad day for Hornchurch and RAF history.”

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Rob Eves, a former student at the school, disagreed with those who disagreed with the name change.

Rob Eves, 19, a former student at the school, disagreed with those who disagreed with the name change.

Mr Eves, of Wendover Way, Hornchurch, said: “I don’t see the problem with changing the name of the school slightly.

“Sanders School are trying to instil a fresh image so we as the local community should support the school in this.”

A spokesman at the school previously said the name change was about the school starting “afresh”.

Roy Marrable, 83, was in the school the day the pilot ditched his plane to save the lives of children like him.

Mr Marrable now lives in Yorkshire and has early-stage Alzheimer’s. His son Gerald, 57, of Kingston-on-Thames spoke to the Recorder on his behalf.

Gerald said: “My dad is disappointed they have done this. If they are starting afresh there’re more important things than changing the name.

“They should me proud of the man. My dad used to go down every year to lay flowers at Sanders’ cemetery - it’s still fresh in his mind in his 80s.”

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