A RETIRED racing greyhound is enjoying a new lease of life at an Oldham school.

Watson has joined the Spring Brook Academy for children with Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) needs at the beginning of the term and has quickly become a popular member of the community. The black greyhound, whose racing name was Ballymac Bangon, raced at Doncaster Stadium. He retired from racing in 2020 and was rehomed by Barnsley and District Animal Welfare (BADAW) which homes more than 125 retired racing greyhounds a year.

Watson spent just over four weeks at BADAW before being taken home by James Hopkins – teacher and outdoor education co-ordinator at Spring Brook Academy. The part-time pupil spends three days a week at school where he is visited by students and taken on short walks by them. He spends the rest of the week lazing on the sofa at home.

Melanie Rodgers, Headteacher at Spring Brook Academy, said: “We are thrilled to welcome Watson into the Spring Brook family. Deciding whether or not to have a dog in school involved much deliberation and planning but given how well Watson has settled into our school, it is clear that he will bring significant benefits to our pupils. He has a very calm temperament and the pupils have responded amazingly well to him – giving him space and being incredibly gentle.

“Our pupils have enjoyed walking him at break and lunchtimes and are even enjoying cuddles. For some of our pupils, spending five or ten minutes with Watson during the day does wonders for their wellbeing. It gives them an opportunity to release any stress or tension and bring their emotions back under control so they are ready to re-engage in learning.”

Steve Simpson from BADAW said: “As the pupils and teachers at Spring Brook Academy have found, greyhounds are gentle, extremely affectionate and very calm pets. I am so pleased that Watson has settled so well into school life and is bringing so much joy to the children". Contrary to what many people think, greyhounds do not need much exercise; they are happy to laze around on the sofa for most of the day and go on a couple of short walks. I am sure that Watson will enjoy a very happy and satisfying retirement as part of the Spring Brook family.”