Braintree: Parents and businesses rally round after John Ray Infant School is destroyed by blaze

PUBLISHED: 09:29 03 September 2013 | UPDATED: 09:29 03 September 2013

The scene at John Ray Infant School in Braintree after it was devastated by fire.

The scene at John Ray Infant School in Braintree after it was devastated by fire.

Archant

MEMBERS of an Essex community whose infant school was destroyed by fire have rallied around while education chiefs last night continued to work on alternative arrangements for pupils.

Despite the efforts of 50 firefighters, John Ray Infant School in Braintree burnt to the ground on Saturday, leaving its 285 children with nowhere to go as the new term starts today.

On the school website parents have been informed the school will be closed all this week while Essex County Council have said they expect to have details about temporary accommodation for pupils “later this week”.

But in the meantime, there has been a lot of activity among parents who are arranging for children to meet up, and local businesses who are already helping out with plans for fundraising for equipment for the school.

Lisa-Marie Ramsay, whose five-year-old twin daughters Chloe and Mia were due to start Year 1 at the school today, said: “Parents are rallying around and helping each other where they can. We are contacting each other through Facebook and through the PTA page to see what we can do.

“Obviously with people expecting to go back to school tomorrow, some people will have to go to work, so people are helping out with childcare where they can.

“Parents are also arranging to meet up in the park several times this week so the children can see each other.

Mrs Ramsay, 34, who also went to the school, added: “Obviously, there is a lot of speculation about what might happen. People are talking about the possibility of portacabins being put up in the playground but we don’t know if that is possible.

“Whatever happens parents don’t want their children’s classes split up. They have made lots of friends in their school and we want them to stay together.”

Another parent, Shana Finch, whose sons go to John Ray Junior School, said the community spirit being shown meant “something positive” was coming out of the devastating incident.

She said: “The fire has affected everyone in the area but its brought people together. One of my friends has invited the children from the new reception class around her house, so everyone gets to meet eachother. A lot of people are talking to each other who otherwise might not have done.”

Individuals and businesses have also pledged to help with any fundraising efforts required in the future.

Kevin Mutlow 45, a former pupil and director at Mutlow’s School of Motoring said he felt compelled to offer some financial help.

He said: “We will contribute something that will make a nice prize in a raffle at some point. Insurance will probably pay for a new building and tables and chairs, but it is things like play equipment and white boards that the PTA has raised thousands of pounds for over the years that they will need help with.”

Commercial director at Essex Cricket Club Danny Macklin said he had already donated a cricket bat and several sports tops that have been autographed by the full first team.

He added: “Braintree is my home town and I have a lot of friends who are connected to the school. You try and do what you can and at some pouint I’m sure they will want to raise some money and hopefully these can help.”

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