Hill staff climb a mountain to re-open school after arson blaze

(From left):  Maureen Stringfellow, Michelle Waldron , Julie Stanley, Sue Miller ( Learning mentor ), Iesha Waldron; (in front)  Naomi Sayer and Jasmine Waldron with Headteacher  Mrs Sarah Creighton.
(From left): Maureen Stringfellow, Michelle Waldron , Julie Stanley, Sue Miller ( Learning mentor ), Iesha Waldron; (in front) Naomi Sayer and Jasmine Waldron with Headteacher Mrs Sarah Creighton.

When mindless arsonists set fire to a school nursery toy shed, the flames gutted more than just the school.

But despite their heartbreak, staff and parents at The Hill Primary School in Thurnscoe have moved a mountain... to re-open their school just ONE day later!

Arsonists struck at 11.20pm on Tuesday, April 5, torching a shed attached to the brand-new Hill Toppers Day Care Centre and the nursery, which only opened in November.

The flames quickly spread to the school building and destroyed a classroom, before firefighters worked through the night to save the rest of the Tudor Street building.

But just a few hours later, at 7am, school staff turned out in droves for a 12-hour shift... to re-house the two centres’ 54 babies and toddlers in another part of the school!

Day care nursery manager, Julie Portman told the Times: “I got a call at midnight saying the nursery was on fire. I was so shocked, as we had only opened in November and we had worked so hard to make the building look amazing.

“But after a very long day, we have got the centres up and running again, without too much disruption to the children, although it has upset them and we had at least one in tears today.”

But the fire has galvanised parents who are determined to pull the Thurnscoe community together to raise funds for the school.

Mum Michelle Waldron said: “Everyone is very upset. This school has done a lot for the people of Thurnscoe and at times like these, the community needs to put something back in.

“We’ll be drumming up support in whatever way we can, whether it’s holding collections at the local shops or just asking people for donations.”

Julie Stanley, of the Parents’ Association, added: “The school have done a marvellous job, making life as normal as possible for all the pupils and their parents.

“The day care centre is vital for so many working parents in Thurnscoe so to have it re-open within one day is brilliant.”

Headteacher Sarah Creighton said: “We’re all extremely upset but we’ve worked very hard to get the school open again.

“The school was rated ‘outstanding’ in the last Ofsted and staff have done an outstanding job to get the pupils back in here within a day.

“I hope police catch whoever did this.”