Hornchurch pupils remember war hero's bravery

Sanders School headteacher Stuart Brooks with winner Nimra Hussain.  

Sanders School headteacher Stuart Brooks with winner Nimra Hussain. - Credit: Tom Barnes

Pupils at a Hornchurch school have marked the birthday of a Second World War hero by writing letters thanking him for his sacrifice.

Raimund Sanders Draper crashed his Spitfire into the playing field of what is now Sanders School when his engine cut out at 200ft - with the plane heading for the building at the time.

But the RAF pilot's actions meant only the wing hit the school,  saving the lives of those inside - although it cost him his own.

A plaque at the school marks the point of impact and its badge features a Spitfire to honour the father-of-one's incredible courage.

This week, pupils at Sanders School were tasked with writing a thank you letter to mark the anniversary of his birth - December 27, 1913.

Year 7 winner Nimra Hussain, from Hornchurch, described the brave airmen as “a true hero with a courageous heart” who went “head-to-head with death”.

The 11-year-old said: “His story is still well known in this area even today nearly 80 years later. For me it is incredibly inspiring, someone who faced death to save others.

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“He was only a young man, aged 29. He sacrificed his life, his friends and family to save children at our school. He was a true hero.

“It makes you want to be brave yourself, to try things even though you might be a bit nervous. To have courage in life and be a hero in your own life.”

The school was named Sanders Draper in 1973 on the 30th anniversary of his death but was controversially changed to Sanders School in 2014.

Headteacher Stuart Brooks has confirmed that the name will revert back in September 2021 and expressed disappointment it was ever changed in the first place.

He said: “When I first came to this school his name was hardly mentioned and I thought that was incredibly disappointing.

“For me, he is this school, his legacy echoes around our classrooms halls and corridors, and rightly so. This is a man who made the ultimate sacrifice. He deserves to be honoured.

“It is his courage that inspires us to 'be the best we can be, by being true to our values.  This motto allows us all to be heroes in our everyday lives, to find the courage and the conviction, and to be brave.”