Deluge of help after rain wrecks school library

December 21 2018
Deluge of help after rain wrecks school library

WHEN rain came cascading through the roof of a Downend school’s library it wrecked hundreds of books and put the area out of action.

But the near disaster also brought about a big community effort to make repairs, rescue the remaining books and replace what was lost.

Torrential rain breached the roof of the conservatory which houses Christ Church Junior School’s library while the librarian and a small group of pupils were inside on November 27. Water came through in three or four places, soaking books, a computer and heaters, and flooding the floor.

The children were quickly moved out of the library and electricians were called in to isolate the power supply but it was impossible to stop the rain from causing extensive damage.

The school was left facing a disaster – but head teacher Pippa Osborne says she has been “humbled” by the response.

South Gloucestershire Council has already agreed to fund the estimated £40,000 cost of repairing the roof, with deputy leader Jon Hunt, a Downend ward councillor, visiting to see the damage for himself.

But the school needs to raise money to replace the hundreds of books which could not be saved, along with the computer, heaters and carpet damaged by the water.

It faces at least six months without a valuable space which was also used for lunchtime activities, intervention work and for parents to read to children.

Pippa said: “There’s a hole in the middle of the school now.

“But I’m just bowled over by how many people have come forward to help. It’s been an incredible response from the local authority and the community, and we have been humbled by it.”

More than 30 volunteers came to the school to help clean up the aftermath of the flood and rescue books.

The school has been lent dehumidifiers and inundated with support in raising the estimated £10,000 to £15,000 needed to replace books, carpets and equipment.

Already RBS has given a donation, nearby Christ Church held a collection at its Christingle service and Bristol Rovers collected donated books at their home game against Doncaster Rovers on December 8.

A page has been set up for people to make donations on website GoFundMe, with more than £1,400 pledged as the Voice went to press.

And a sponsored walk from Bristol’s Central Library to the school’s library is to be held on January 19, as the school and its supporters try to raise the they think they will need.

Pippa said the library had lost around 500 books in total, with those written by authors with surnames beginning A to E the worst affected. Donations of suitable books for children aged 7 to 11 are being welcomed.

Pippa said that, with the help of donors and the council, she hoped the school would have an even better library than the one which was wrecked, adding: “It just goes to show the power of our community and how important the power of reading is.”

Councillor Hunt said the authority hoped to start repairs “as soon as possible” after leaders decided to use an emergency fund to pay for repairs.

He said: “As soon as we made the decision, I visited the school with officers and met with head teacher Pippa Osborne to see the extent of the damage first hand and deliver the good news personally."

To donate to the appeal to help replace the lost books, visit the GoFundMe page at bit.ly/2KFtsZd.