Notre Dame School

Notre Dame Plymouth

Welcome to our HMS Heroes Page

Key contacts:

Mrs Anita Shaw (Notre Dame Co-ordinator)


Website content by Jody Shaw


Notre Dame School is an optimistic school promoting Christian attitudes, a school where every person belongs, a school which values learning, which rises to challenges and celebrates achievement.

Notre Dame educates the whole person: head, heart and hands.


HMS Scott Came to Visit!

On the 28th April 2014, 12 Military Personnel from the Royal Naval ship, HMS Scott, came to visit our school with the purpose to help the girls bring life to their plan for the school allotment.  Amongst them was Petty Officer Pete Howell, who is our military sponser.  There were five students who helped the visitors, alongside four members of staff: Mrs Liz Harris, Mr Keith Wortelhock, Mrs Anita Shaw and Miss Jody Shaw.


The day began with light refreshments, such as coffee, tea and juice, accompanied by a buffet, including sausage rolls, homemade cake and other savoury items.  Following this, the hard work began.  Those from HMS Scott got stuck in with the digging whilst the students took the responsibility of disposing of the weeds.  Come lunch time, extraordinary progress was made and a well-deserved break was earned.  Once again, an assortment of refreshments and snacks were available, laid out by the members of staff.  Unfortunately not long after everyone returned to the allotment after lunch, the sunny weather took a turn for the worse, with an unexpected downpour halting the gardening for the day.  However, much had already been achieved meaning this was not an inconvenience.

The visit from HMS Scott was a fantastically fun and productive day, with the generous Military Personnel even offering to return to finish the allotment and help decorate our new HMS Heroes Meeting Room, which is something we are all looking forward to.


Below is a collection of photographs taken throughout the day.


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Our Poppy Garden

After our visit from HMS Scott, the school continued to work on the allotment.  We decided to plant our poppies and the result of this is wonderful.  As you can see from the photos below, our poppies have been delicately tended to and are growing beautifully.  Finally, the garden was completed with the HMS Heroes Poppy Sign created by two of our students’ father.

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Lord Mayor Visit

On the 30th of September, the HMS Heroes’ girls from our school were invited to attend the Lord Mayor visit at the Citadel 29 Commando Regiment.  We were also joined by Eggbuckland Vale Primary School.  We were given the opportunity to witness a historical reenactment between Parliamentarians and the troops loyal to the King, a uniform inspection, a gun salute out into the sound and a tour of the camp by a young Army Commando named Luke.  Alongside this we were educated on the historical background of the camp and the armed forces.  We were provided with the perfect balance of fun activities and education.   After this, we were provided with a delicious lunch in a room located just off of the galley, giving everyone time to catch up and take in the amazing day over a variety of hot foods.  Our students thoroughly enjoyed themselves, especially one student whose father works at the camp and took part in the reenactment at the beginning of the day.  This leads me onto saying that we would like to thank Lieutenant Colonel Cresswell for inviting us and arranging such an amazing day for our Heroes’ students.

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The Heritage Centre

Visiting the Heritage Centre is a regular trip for all HMS Heroes’ groups within Plymouth Schools, as it is a great way for everyone to come together and meet other students from across Plymouth.  However, the visit held on the 2nd of October was extra special for one of our Heroes’ students at Notre Dame.  This was because her father and a colleague had travelled down from Tidworth, where they are based, to run the activity for the day.  The afternoon began with WO1 Hendy and his colleague SGT Dave Prince providing historical information about the Battleaxe and its involvement in the armed forces.  The students were even given items of military uniform for them to wear for the afternoon.  Next was the main activity, which got all the students, and even a few members of staff involved.  The activity consisted of the students being split into two groups, one representing the French Armed Forces and the other representing the British Armed Forces.  They then had to use simple resources, such as tape, newspaper and straw, to create a bridge that would go from one table to the next allowing a remote control car to travel across it without the bridge breaking in the process.  It’s fair to say that all the students displayed such excitement and enthusiasm during the task, with each group determined to build the best bridge.  When it came down to testing out the bridges, neither of them broke, meaning that the students then had to go outside and show which force was better at marching.  Luckily we were blessed with a lovely warm day and the students had many laughs trying to outdo each other.  Overall, the afternoon was extremely enjoyable.  It’s always so lovely for the students to join up with other schools and be active, especially with activities such as marching because it makes them feel all grown up just like their parent who serves in the military.  So, a massive thank you to WO1 Hendy and SGT Dave Prince for providing us with a number of entertaining activities that put a smile on all the students faces.



Here is a photo of some of our girls at one of our weekly lunchtime meetings.

Heroes Ice Skating Trip

Anita and I thought we would give the girls an early Christmas present by taking them to a free ice skating session on the outdoor rink in town.  The girls were ecstatic and very eager to attend; especially when they found out they would have the rink to themselves for an hour and a half!!  We took a total of eleven students, with some being avid skaters in their free time and even bringing their own boots.  These students helped those who were eager to learn and become more skilled at skating.  The girls had so much fun, only coming off the ice to buy a quick snack and refreshment before racing back on to continue skating.  Overall, the morning proved to be very successful and the students were extremely grateful for the opportunity, making sure they thanked the staff at the rink for their generosity.

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Quick Update

The girls have been thoroughly enjoying being a part of HMS Heroes this year, even more so than last year, as there are a lot more students that have come up from primary school that share the same eagerness to be involved as our older girls.  This means that all of our students are very keen to be creative and represent HMS Heroes throughout the school and throughout Plymouth.  We have two new 6th form HMS Heroes ambassadors, we have a few girls that want to represent the team by running the Race for Life this year for an armed forces charity and there is going to be a Heroes Representative in each year group. During our lunchtime clubs, they get really stuck into the activities provided, such as the bookmark competition, posters to advertise the group around the school, making cakes and even taking part outside of the club by singing in the Remembrance Day Assembly and speaking about HMS Heroes at school assemblies and last years Open Evening.  Also, they are all always coming up with such fantastic ideas for trips and activities, showing me that they are very excited to make HMS Heroes even bigger and better than ever.  It is such a pleasure to see the girls all bonding, becoming great friends inside and outside of the group, and really being there for each other, especially when their parents are away.  We also plan on expanding these bonds by inviting the parents along to a Friday after school coffee afternoon, meaning that the parents can meet other families in their unique situation and learn a lot more about what HMS Heroes provides their daughters.

So, below are just a few recent photos of some of our HMS Heroes students taken during our weekly lunchtime club.

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HMS Heroes Bickleigh Barracks Visit

On the 28th January, HMS Heroes were invited to take part in the Commando Challenge at Bickleigh Barracks.  Anita, two students and I arrived at the camp for approximately 12:30 and there were a range of meals offered for the students and staff in The Galley.  Once everyone had finished eating, the students were taken to the gym and the staff were taken to the Sargent’s Mess, which was very grand with a lovely view.  Around halfway through the afternoon, we popped into the gym to see how our students were getting on.  There were multiple activities scattered around the gym, ranging from rock climbing to transferring heavy equipment across benches to crawling through a dark tunnel.  As our two students were the only students from a secondary school taking part in the exercise, with them being in year 8 and in year 9, they felt a sense of duty to help the forces personnel look after and help the younger students through the assault course.  The day’s activities were also filmed by the BBC and ITV and were shown on the local news, which was very exciting.  When it was time to leave, the girls filled us in on how much fun they had had throughout the afternoon and that they didn’t really want to leave so soon.  So with that being said we would like to say a massive thank you to the 42 Commando Royal Marines at Bickleigh Barracks for such a lovely afternoon.

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HMS Heroes Make Cupcakes!

At Notre Dame we have a weekly HMS Heroes meeting on a Tuesday for all of our girls to attend, alongside a weekly homework session on a Thursday for our Years 9, 10 and 11.  So during our Tuesday meetings we like to provide the girls with fun activities like making cards, posters and playing games, but the activity that got the best reaction from the students was the cake decorating!  I brought in plain fairy cakes, multiple different flavoured icing, sprinkles, chocolate and other fun decorations.  As you can probably guess, the chocolate went down the best!  This activity was just something fun, exciting and yummy but also educational, as we like to help the girls practice life skills such as washing up, making hot chocolates and now decorating cakes.

Below are just a few pictures taken during that lunchtime, not many were taken as we were way too busy eating delicious cupcakes 🙂

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HMS Heroes Had a Visitor

During our weekly lunchtime club on the 3rd April, we had a visitor.  Her name is Tifaine Radcliffe and she is an ex Notre Dame Student.  However, there is something even more special about her, as she focuses much of her time raising money for our Armed Forces.  Her most recent achievement was completing the Commando Challenge in order to raise money for the Royal Marines Association.  The girls were very excited to meet Tifaine, especially the girls who are running the Race for Life this year as they wanted some tips.  Our Heroes’ students had made Tifaine a card, a certificate of appreciation and one student had even made two big tubs of cupcakes for us all to enjoy.  So, we began by presenting Tifaine with her card and certificate and then we let the students ask her questions.  It was amazing to see how interested they were in Tifaine’s achievements and also asked her questions about her time here at Notre Dame.  The visit was a definite success and we succeeded in celebrating both Tifaine’s achievements and to commemorate the 150 Years of Notre Dame School.  When the Heroes girls pull together like this to appreciate a visitor, it always reiterates the purpose of the group because they work together as friends to create a lovely welcoming environment for people to join.

So, HMS Heroes would like to say a massive thank you to Tifaine for taking the time to share her stories with us.

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Our Ambassadors Visited the BBC!

On Saturday 14th March, our two Sixth Form HMS Heroes Ambassadors visited BBC Radio Devon for a very special morning.  Jo Loosemore had personally invited these students to the radio station so that she could interview them on what it is really like to be the child of a serviceman and to give them the platform to explain first-hand the positive and negative effects this had and still has on their lives.

So, Jodie, Rebekah, Mrs Shaw and I arrived at the BBC for 10 o clock and were very kindly greeted by Jo and offered a hot drink each.  After a lovely introduction and a general chit-chat, the Ambassadors and Mrs Shaw were taken to a work space where the interview was then conducted.  Unfortunately, the room was so small that I was unable to squeeze in, so I waited for them in the reception area (which was fine by me because that’s where all the coffee was!)  The interview spanned over about two hours and it was conducted in a way that the questions were less formal and instead in more of a conversational format.  It was a very personal interview, which the girls were very happy with as they really wanted listeners to hear and potentially relate to the reality of having a parent going away, with moving schools and all the physical and mental effects of the armed forces.  This is not to imply that every aspect is negative, it’s just reality for these students.

Once the emotional interview was complete, we were very excited to learn that Jo was going to give us a tour of the radio station.  We were taken through different sections of the building, showing us the sport rooms and the news rooms, explaining to us the little secrets of how live radio works.

We were very honoured to be given the opportunity to not only visit the BBC and meet the lovely Jo Loosemore but we were also honoured that our Ambassadors voices, opinions and experiences can now be heard.


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 HMS Heroes Go to the Royal Citadel

HMS Heroes were very kindly invited back to the Royal Citadel for another fun afternoon of activities.  Each school were allowed to bring two students along and our students were very happy to find that there were many other students from secondary schools there and instantly started chatting to them.  The afternoon began at 1pm with a lovely buffet set out for us in the galley.   After having lunch, the students were split into two groups.  Our students were in group 1, so we went across the parade ground where we met up with a group of Army Commandos waiting to talk the students through the three activities that had been planned for them.  The group was then split further into three small groups.  The first activity consisted of learning about how to use a canon and they were even allowed to move the positioning of the canon by moving it up and down.  The second activity was trying on military equipment, such as webbing and a helmet.  They were then shown how to crawl under netting and use binoculars as if they were on watch.  The third activity was led by a drill instructor who taught them some basic drill, even asking one primary school student to lead the drill lesson, which was very entertaining.  Then the two main groups swapped over and our group went across the road to another building which contained a virtual firing range.  There were seven ranges, each manned by an Army Commando, and with one student per Commando, they were shown how to fire the weapon.  When they weren’t using the virtual firing range, the students were allowed to hold and ask questions about other weapons, such as pistols and bazookas.  Our girls really enjoyed using the firing range and said this was their favourite part of the day.  It was really enjoyable to see the girls getting hands on with some of the same equipment their own parents use and they were both very excited to go home and tell their dads what they had done.  After this activity, we all walked back across the road to the main camp and were able to thank Heather and the men from the Royal Citadel that had ran this amazing afternoon before going back to school.  On the way home, we all agreed that this was the best HMS Heroes trip yet as they were really able to get involved and learnt a little bit more about what it’s like to be in the armed forces.  So, we are very, very grateful to the men at the Royal Citadel for giving our HMS Heroes girls such a great trip and as always a massive thank you to Heather for arranging this for us.

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HMS Raleigh Came to Visit Notre Dame

Notre Dame were very lucky to receive another email from Peter Howell, who came in last year with HMS Scott to help us dig up a part of our allotment so we could plant some trees.  He emailed us to offer his services once again and this time told us that he would be bringing a fellow instructor and four sailors in training from HMS Raleigh along with him.  So on the 10th June, six sailors came into school bright and early and very keen to help improve our allotment again.  We were blessed with a hot, sunny day which made it even more enjoyable.  As we made our way down to the school allotment, we were joined with six students, five of whom joined us to dig up the allotment last year, and everyone was assigned a role to carry out for the day.  The six men and women from HMS Raleigh were in charge of digging up the plot that we needed to plant the 150 sunflowers to commemorate the 150 years that Notre Dame has been open.  The students and I were in charge of de-weeding the centre plot and then planting the potted plants that needed to go into the ground once the weeds were gone.  We were also joined by Mr Wortelhock who focussed on re-aligning the taller plants that had begun to grow in a more horizontal direction.  We were all kept very occupied and worked very hard throughout the day, taking regular breaks to make sure we stayed hydrated due to the heat and even enjoyed a nice buffet in the shade of a nearby classroom.  Most importantly, we had lots of fun and enjoyed getting outside and being hands-on and productive.  We would love to say a massive thank you to CPOWTR Pete Howell, POWTR Sarah Bearcroft, WTR Samantha Haddon, WTR James Blacklock, WTR Thomas Graham and WTR Kane Baker, for coming in and working really hard to make our allotment a place where we can celebrate the 150 years of our schools success.  We are extremely grateful and you are all more than welcome to return at any time.


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HMS Courageous Tour

For Armed Forces Week, we were invited to visit HMS Courageous for an afternoon tour.  This trip was not exclusively for HMS Heroes students, which meant that other Notre Dame students were able to mix with the Heroes girls and learn more about the armed forces and what it entails.  Our tour was scheduled for the afternoon of Thursday 25th June and we had two members of staff and sixteen students in total taking part.  Once we got down to the Heritage Centre, we were escorted by a bus through the dockyard to where the submarine was alongside.  We were then met by two tour guides, a man from the council and two sailors, ready to take us on our tour.  We had to leave our belongings in the office as we weren’t allowed to take pictures whilst on the tour.  As we were a big group, we were split into two, with a tour guide, a sailor and me or Mrs Shaw in each group.  Each group started the tour at opposite ends, with one group going down the ladder at the back end of the submarine and the other group going down the ladder that was placed more in the centre of the submarine and that was the group that I (Jody) was in.  This ladder was very steep and a little daunting, making us realise from the very beginning that living life as a submariner makes you face very different challenges to our daily lives.  The first section of the submarine that we made our way into was the mess room which had many small rooms with multiple bunks in them leading off of it.  This was where it was explained that the only person to have a room to themselves on the ship is the Captain and everyone else had to share rooms and even beds, which is called Hot Bunking.  Whilst on the tour, we were shown rooms such as the kitchen, the navigation room and even the weapons room.  The tour was thoroughly interesting and the girls were so intrigued by what they were seeing that they were asking so many questions, as they really wanted to make the most of being in the submarine and learning all that they could from the experience.  The tour lasted approximately an hour and a half and the students definitely learnt so much information to take home with them.  We would all like to say a massive thank you to everybody that took us on the tour, it was such a once in a lifetime experience for us as a group and we appreciated the opportunity so much.

 Ambassadors Awards Evening 

Notre Dame HMS Heroes are very proud to have had our two Heroes ambassadors, Jodie Hendy and Rebekah Deakin, presenting and helping to arrange the Ambassadors Awards Evening.  This took place in The Globe Theatre in Stonehouse Barracks on the 24th June.  Anita and I arrived and were seated just before 7 and as the theatre began to fill out, you could feel the excitement.  The Lord Mayor had even come along to show his appreciation of Plymouth’s HMS Heroes members.  The evening began with a Plymouth band playing live and our ambassadors taking centre stage.  The first award was an adult award for Most Interesting Website of which I was nominated for and very happy to have actually won.  The glass trophy that I was presented with looks stunning!  As the night went on, two of our HMS Heroes students, who were also in The Globe Theatre with their families, were brought up to the stage to be celebrated for being nominees of the Most Active Member Award.  They were presented with framed awards for being nominated but sadly they didn’t win.  However, they were very good sports and applauded the young boy that did win.  Another highlight of the night was when the Military Kids Choir sang many songs from their playlists and sounded absolutely lovely.  It was even announced that Heather had been awarded an MBE!!  So a massive congratulations to Heather for such an amazing achievement.  As the ceremony came to a close, myself and Anita found ourselves overwhelmed with how proud we were of all of our girls, especially our two ambassadors.  All of our HMS Heroes students work so hard throughout the year and it was very well deserved to have an evening that acknowledged this.

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 HMS Heroes Visit Stonehouse Barracks

On October 1st, HMS Heroes were given the opportunity to go to Stonehouse Barracks to complete an obstacle course set up for them by the Commandos at the camp.  We arrived in the afternoon to see that there were about 40 students in total, so we knew that we were in for a great time.  First, we had a hot meal in the galley and then went and met the PTI and the Commandos that were leading the active afternoon.  The group were split into four, as there were four physical activities to complete.  These activities consisted of; tug of war, a bleep test, a monkey bar challenge and a mini gym session.  The adults were also encouraged to take part in some of these activities, which was rather funny.  All of the students showed great effort and determination in completing these tasks and our Year 7 girls came away feeling very accomplished.  We all had such a lovely time and would like to say a massive thank you to everybody from Stonehouse Barracks who helped make this afternoon possible.

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This year for Red, White and Blue Day, we thought that we would do a whole school, themed mufti day to raise money and awareness for the great cause.  All students and staff were encouraged to wear mufti clothes that consisted of the colours red, white and blue and we each had to donate £1.  A pack was also sent around to each tutor group containing activities and information so as to educate all students on the importance of this day and our Armed Forces in general.  We are very proud to announce that Notre Dame raised and donated £446.39 to the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity, ABF the Soldiers’ Charity and the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund.

HMS Heroes Leadership Course

The HMS Heroes Leadership Course that was run by Heather and Jono was definitely the most positive opportunity that these students have been offered.  The course ran over three days and took place in the Guildhall, where they were given a massive space to lay out their work, lead their energisers and fulfil the activities given to them.  The course was split between primary and secondary school and there were three schools that took part in the secondary school sessions.  Each day began and ended with the students self-assessing how they were feeling and progressing.  This was achieved through an activity called the Blob Tree.  The Blob Tree shows different ‘blob people’ dotted around the branches of a tree, each with varying expressions or with no expressions at all, with some blobs further up the tree and some not on the tree at all.  Then throughout the three days they were taught a multitude of key leadership skills to take away and use within their HMS Heroes groups and beyond.  Some of the skills learnt are as follows: safeguarding, how to debate and compromise, the importance of open questions and open thinking, how to calm a team member down in a panic, how to carry out different roles within a team, what makes a healthy brain to help you work better, what makes a successful working atmosphere, how to time manage and prioritise and learning how to respond in difficult situations.

The course made all of the skills a joy to learn as they were done in such a fun, active way, that the students were absorbing all this knowledge without it feeling like it was too much or overwhelming.  I was so happy that I was able to come along to this course as it was lovely to see my two students grow in confidence and leadership, with there being a huge difference between day 1 and day 3.

At the end of the final day, each student was awarded with a certificate and a Help For Heroes T-shirt, with Heather and Jono telling each student how they have individually progressed throughout the course.  So the girls at Notre dame would like to say a huge thank you to Heather and Jono for sharing their fun and educational leadership skills that can be taken and used in school and in adult life.

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 HMS Heroes Go Swimming!

We were offered an amazing Christmas treat for two of our girls to go swimming at the China Fleet Club on the 8th December.  After a fun swimming session, the students were treated to a delicious buffet and Christmas crackers.  The day was such a lovely occasion.  It was such a stunning, relaxing place to visit and we all felt very spoiled afterward.  So as usual, a big thank you to Heather for arranging this trip for us and a very Merry Christmas to all! 🙂



Below is an updated photo of some of our girls, taken at last Tuesdays lunchtime club 🙂


More photos!

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 Two of our girls went on board HMS Ocean!


Two of our Sixth Form Ambassadors created, presented and won awards at the Military Kids Club Awards Evening!

And two more of our students got nominated for awards, with one winning a very lovely trophy!


A group of MKC Heroes represented Notre Dame at the Council Chambers and had their voices heard on many different important topics!


The making of the Christmas decorations has begun at our weekly club!

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We were invited along for the annual swim, bounce and Christmas party at the China Fleet Club, which was fantastic as always!

We hope that you all have a very Merry Christmas from all of us here at Notre Dame MKC Heroes 🙂