Head hopes to rebuild classroom after arson attack at Bury school and praises community support

A distraught Maria Kembal, head of St Edmunds RC Primary School after the forest school hut at the school was distroyed by fire last night ANL-150616-213235009
A distraught Maria Kembal, head of St Edmunds RC Primary School after the forest school hut at the school was distroyed by fire last night ANL-150616-213235009
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A community has rallied round a Bury St Edmunds school after a £60,000 to £70,000 outdoor classroom was destroyed in an arson attack.

The outdooor classroom at the back of St Edmunds RC Primary School, in Westgate Street, was completely gutted by a blaze on Tuesday at about 8pm.

Fire at St Edmunds Catholic Primary School - picture by John Hughes ANL-150616-220050001

Fire at St Edmunds Catholic Primary School - picture by John Hughes ANL-150616-220050001

It was used for their Forest Schools programme and was built following a lengthy fund-raising project at the school and a lottery grant.

Executive head Maria Kemble said pupils have been left in ‘disbelief’ at the incident and hopes to rebuild the classroom. She said: “I was at a governors’ meeting in school and saw huge black billowing clouds going past my windows and heard the sirens.

“I ran through the school down to our entrance to get to the forest school but could not go through because the fire was so intense. I ran all the way down Friars Lane and by that time there was nothing left.”

She said there had been a number of occasions of trespassers on the site and believed in this incident ‘people have come onto the site who should not have done’.

Mrs Kemble said they will continue with the Forest Schools programme in which pupils build dens and learn about plants and wildlife.

They will look to claim on insurance to rebuild the classroom but as this may not cover the full cost they may have to fund-raise.

Mrs Kemble said grandparents of pupils have already handed her cheques and Borough Cllr Paul Hopfensperger has pledged £100 from his locality budget. She said: “The messages of support we’ve received have been phenomenal and just shows that out of something really bad the community does come together.”

Two fire engines attended the scene and the fire was out by 8.40pm. Pat Dacey, district commander for West Suffolk, said they are treating the incident as arson and would be working with the police. He said: “It has taken away a community resource from young people and teachers and parents went to great lengths to build it. It saddens me that it’s been taken away in such a malicious and deliberate act.”

Anyone with information should contact police on 101. If you would like to donate to the school email office@st-edmunds.suffolk.sch.uk