Fire damaged school re-opens

CHILDREN left devastated after their school was almost destroyed by fire returned to their rebuilt classrooms yesterday for the first time.

Laurence Cawley

CHILDREN left devastated after their school was almost destroyed by fire returned to their rebuilt classrooms yesterday for the first time.

Head teacher Tony Bavington told how returning year five and eight pupils at St Felix Middle School in Newmarket were left in awe at their rebuilt school.

Their return comes five months after the old school building, in Fordham Road, was engulfed in flames.


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At the time scores of fire fighters were drafted in from across three counties to battle the blaze, which was fanned by strong winds and caused millions of pounds worth of damage.

Plumes of acrid black smoke could be seen from 10 miles away.

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Speaking yesterday, Mr Bavington told how a major crash on the A14 had caused delays for some pupils eager to return to school.

“We were hit by the A14 again. But it has been good and the children have been walking around going 'wow' at all the new resources they have here.”

Staff moved back into the school on Monday and Tuesday when they teamed up for a curriculum planning session. Today, the year eights and fives will be joined by years six and seven.

“We wanted to stagger the return,” said Mr Bavington. “There are still builders' equipment on site so we wanted to ensure the safety of our children.”

While St Felix was closed down, children were housed in three host schools - Laureate Primary, Houldsworth Valley Primary and Newmarket College.

Pupils at St Felix told of their shock and devastation at the fire. One pupil at the time told the EADT: “I was truly devastated. I was at my friend's house when we got a call saying our school was on fire.

“Rushing to the door, we put on our coats and shoes and started walking to St Felix not knowing how bad it would be, as soon as we got to Tesco's, we could see the mass amounts of smoke hovering over George Lambton playing field.

“Sick with worry that the school wouldn't be open again, I phoned my best friend and we were crying over the phone about our much-loved memories at St Felix.”

While pupils were away from the Fordham Road site builders got to work demolishing the fire-ravaged structure down to its concrete base before the new building was put up.

The new building was handed over in December.

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