A RETIRED couple who have dedicated their later years to helping bullied children have been named as two of the most inspirational people in the country.
Fred and Viv Morgan, aged 94 and 72 respectively, opened Northleigh House in Hatton nine years ago and took over running it as a small hotel.
But after hearing increasingly common stories about children committing suicide due to bullying, the husband and wife team decided to transform their ten-bedroom home into a school for victims and after being featured in The Observer, their story hit the headlines across the country.
And now the inspirational couple have been named on the Independent on Sunday’s Happy List – a collection of 100 ‘heroes and heroines’ who make Britain a better place to live.
Prime Minister David Cameron, who backs the list, said: “It is a great way to recognise even more of those hardworking people who go the extra mile to help those around them. Everyone on it should be very proud of the difference they have made.”
The couple opened the school in 2012 and currently have around 20 pupils aged 11 to 17.
They still live in the building, and have kept much of the house as it was, with comfortable lounges, sofas, curtains and log fires for the pupils to enjoy.
The pair are said to be ‘delighted’ at being featured on the list – which also includes the likes of David Attenborough, Ricky Gervais, Tom Daley and Emma Watson.
A school spokeswoman said: “Both Vivian and Fred were shocked to find they had been nominated and were so happy to find out that they had made it onto the list.
“They are still very humbled by all the recognition they are getting but insist that they don’t do anything special. The pair of them work tirelessly for Northleigh and without their hard work it wouldn’t be able to remain open.”
Fred and Viv – who spend their spare time with their daughter and young grandson – will take time out of their hectic schedules to attend a reception held by the Independent for those featured on the list.
They have recently been fund-raising to pay for a £40,000 barn conversion, which will turn the building into a sports and drama centre for pupils.
The money is needed alongside funding to pay for the school, which relies nearly entirely on donations.
Visit www.northleigh.co.uk to find out more about the school or visit www.gofundme.com/northleighhouse to donate.