School forced to close after vandals strip lead off roof, but parents step in to help

St Marys school in St Neots

St Marys school in St Neots - Credit: Archant

Concerned parents of pupils at a school in St Neots have started a fundraising campaign after thieves stripped lead from the roof, leaving it exposed to the elements.

Pupils at St Mary's School were sent home on September 25 and were also unable to attend classes the following day after rain water started leaking into the building, causing concerns over safety.

Thieves stripped a substantial amount of lead from a section of roof before the start of the autumn term and also stole bikes, leaving the school with a bill running into thousands of pounds.

Rain water also caused damage to equipment in the building.

In an effort to help, parent Gemma Ansell, whose son Harry, aged four, has just started in Reception, launched a Go Fund Me webpage.

She said: "I want people to help the children get back to focussing on their education as soon as possible. I'm trying to get the message out there as much as I can and raise some money. Even with the insurance, the school still has to find thousands of pounds.

"It's devastating that the children have suffered because someone can't keep their hands to themselves."

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Gemma said the school had completed some temporary repairs to make the building watertight but she added that it had been difficult for parents who work because nobody was sure if the weather would mean they had to come and collect children early.

A spokesman for the Diocese of Ely Multi-Academy Trust, which manages the school, said: "St Mary's was closed due to damage caused by heavy rain to some of the roof and ceilings.

"A detailed risk assessment of the situation has been undertaken. As the integrity of some of the ceilings was at risk, and the safety of our pupils and staff takes priority.

"The damage caused by a combination of the theft of the lead flashing from the roof, and the heavy rain, resulted in water leaking through the ceiling.

"This led to a potential risk of leaks into the electrical system.

"The trust is working closely with the school to ensure fully funded emergency remedial work is carried out.

"Head teacher Ben Hodson will ensure that parents are kept up to date about the situation via text and the school Facebook page. He would like to thank the parents for their tremendous support."