Arson-hit Galashiels school hut rises from the ashes

Janie and Jack Brown with dad Chris, left, while Joseph, Luke, Enya and Liam flank mum Nicola Kelly in the school's new hut.
Janie and Jack Brown with dad Chris, left, while Joseph, Luke, Enya and Liam flank mum Nicola Kelly in the school's new hut.

Langlee Primary School pupils are over the moon after two parents got together to replace an outdoor hut burned down by vandals in October.

The hut, used by children at the Galashiels school during lunch and play breaks, also served as an outdoor classroom, bringing the kids that bit closer to nature.

However, the youngsters were left devastated when they turned up at school on the morning of Thursday, November 1, to find the hut in ashes.

Fire-raisers had pulled off panels from the boundary fence and set fire to them inside the hut, destroying it.

But one parent was determined that would not be the end of the story.

Nicola Kelly, whose four children – Enya, Luke, Liam and Joseph – attend the nursery and school, told us: “I was emailing local businesses to try and get donations for the school’s Christmas fair when my son Liam came in.

“He said: ‘Mummy, there’s been a tragedy. Someone’s burned the hut down and now we’re not allowed down there because it’s not safe’.”

Nicola decided to ask local timber firms to see if they could donate anything and managed to procure enough wood from Charlesfield’s Robertson Timber for the cost price of £75, which she paid herself.

“She added: “I didn’t mind paying it because of the benefits for all of the children.

“It needed fixed quickly as the children were missing out.

“All four of my children have used the hut from nursery age and have loved it. They used to go down and explore the woodland area.

“It’s a great benefit to the whole school. It’s a place where the children can go and play.”

Once the timber was procured, Nicola contacted a joiner pal, Chris Brown, who also has children at the school, and he gave up his time to build the new structure.

Nicola said: “Chris did an amazing job fixing it all up for me and for the school.

“I also contacted Jewson’s in Galashiels, who donated timber paint so we could protect the flooring.”

Chris, whose children Jack and Janie attend the school, said: “I was asked by Nicola to come along with my tape measure so she could source the correct sizes of timber for the job, and I agreed to put it together.

“I’m a joiner to trade and I do love working with wood, and the whole job took me a day and a half.

“I went along to Jewson’s on the Saturday to pick up the paint and finished it off.”

Delighted teacher Keith Guthrie told us: “This means the world to the children.

“They were disappointed, horrified and shocked when they saw the damage that had happened because not only is it used at breaktimes and lunchtimes as a gathering space, but it is also used for learning as well.

“It’s an important part of our outdoor learning provision, so to have it out of action for a prolonged period of time was quite upsetting for a lot of them.

“Also, they could see that a crime had been committed on their doorstep. They were shocked.

“We’d like to thank Nicola and Chris as they have certainly sorted this out far quicker than we as a school could have done, so we are very grateful for their unexpected donation of money to pay for it and the time they have put into it as well.

“It’s a real bonus for the whole school community.”