THE 200th anniversary of the birth of a Stourport school's benefactor has been commemorated with the annual tradition of children singing and laying flowers on his grave.

Wilden All Saints CE Primary School's plans for a bigger celebration in honour of Thomas Jones had to be curtailed due to coronavirus but those pupils currently attending school were able to perform the ceremony in small groups.

There was also a virtual collective worship for those at home to take part in, led by Wilden vicar Rev Carey Saleh.

Former Wilden headteacher Nic Harvey, who served the school from 1970 to 2001, researched the history of Thomas Jones.

Thomas was born on July 15, 1820 and lived in Cakebole, Chaddesley Corbett, where he worked as cowman at Cakebole House Farm, earning 12 shillings and 6 pence a week and attended Wilden Church.

Mr Harvey said: “He was illiterate, lived frugally in a garret, but owned a field in Wilden which he rented out.

"When he died in 1899, his will came as something of a surprise, as he left an estate of £1,200, squirrelled away in old bank books kept under his bedding, which would be roughly equivalent to £700,000 today.

“With no family of his own, Thomas had enjoyed listening to the Wilden schoolchildren at play and left his largest bequest of £876 – around £500,000 in today’s money – to provide an annual treat for the pupils, with the children, for their part, placing flowers on his grave and singing a song on his birthday.”

With just £13 remaining by the early 1970s, the school governors closed the account, but the tradition of celebrating his birthday at his graveside in the adjoining churchyard has stood the test of time.

Acting head of school Charlotte McDonald said: “Thomas Jones Day is a very special and unique part of our school’s history. It is a shared memory that all who have attended or worked at Wilden hold.”