A SCHOOL near Bromyard has announced it is to close this summer.

St Richard's School at Bredenbury, which has been open for 94 years, will ring its home time bell for the final time this July.

The independent day and boarding school, which has just over 100 three-to-13-year-old pupils on its books, says a drop in pupil numbers has led to the decision.

An action group has been set-up to try and save the school from closure.

In a statement, St Richard's said the news was greeted with "great sadness" as well as a determination from parents to keep the school open.

"The school had a narrow escape from closure in 2013 and has been reliant on a benefactor since then," the statement says.

"However, the school’s numbers have not grown fast enough and indeed were forecast to drop this year, meaning that borrowing commitments could not be met nor a secure future guaranteed.

"The appointment of the head (Fred de Falbe) to a post elsewhere might have hastened the decision to close but has not caused it.

"The decision was made as early as possible to given parents and staff as much time as possible to relocate to other schools and posts."

Traditional end-of-year events such as prizegiving and sports events will continue as planned. The building, meanwhile, is believed to be leased from a property company.

School bosses say neighbouring schools have been "warm in their support and sympathy", with offers of places for the new school year in September.

This was confirmed by Bromyard Mayor, Cllr Tony Burt, who is the chair of governors at the town's Queen Elizabeth Humanities College. He believes most St Richard's pupils are from outside the county but he said those of secondary school age could easily be absorbed into the Queen Elizabeth.

The announcement about St Richard's comes in the same week as the founder of the Good Schools Guide, Ralph Lucas, was reported as saying state schools' growing popularity with parents is resulting in families who can afford private school fees to increasingly choose state schools.

Anyone wishing to contribute to the fund to save St Richards can do so by emailing Mr de Falbe at schooloffice@st-richards.org.uk or by calling 01885 482491.