Handy way to remember the day Denholm Primary School burned to the ground

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PUPILS and teachers of Denholm Primary have lent a hand to help remember the fire which destroyed the village’s former school building five years ago.

More than 120 tiles with handprints of students and staff are on display this Saturday, along with additional information on the blaze which ripped through the previous school on April 19, 2006.

The fire, caused by a faulty heater, was reported at 7.30am by the school janitor in the playgroup room, an hour before pupils were due to arrive.

It quickly spread to the gym hall and three classrooms before firefighters managed to extinguish the flames.

With the 53-year-old school devastated, pupils were transported and taught at St Margaret’s RC School in Hawick until October 2008, when the new school was rebuilt and opened on the same site.

Recalling the fateful day and its aftermath, Eric Webster of Friends of Denholm Primary School said: “It was a traumatic experience for the children. I remember they had to be bussed to St Margaret’s and there was concern that the school might not be rebuilt.

“I was working in Edinburgh when my wife phoned me to tell me the news.

“It was probably a more difficult time for the teachers who lost their preparation work for lessons.

“It was just a relief that no-one died in the fire.”

The idea for the remembrance was mooted soon after the blaze but has taken until now, with the help of Harestanes artist Douglas Hunter, to come to fruition.

And it has had the support of local businesses, who have helped Friends of Denholm Primary School to fund the project’s £800 costs.

Mr Webster told us: “We felt it was important to formally remember the fire.

“We took advice from Douglas and he decided to use ink that he says will last forever for the handprints.

“I cannot commend Douglas highly enough. He came in and helped us put together a fantastic display.

“Saturday’s open day is for parents and businesses who have supported us to see the finished work.”

Denholm PS headteacher Morag McCredie added: “It has been a super project which has involved pupils across the school.

“We have also had former students come back to take part and had the chance to see the new school, and it has been great to see them.”

Saturday’s open day coincides with Denholm’s annual Border Bogie Challenge.

Racing begins at 9am, with prizes being handed out by Scottish Secretary, Michael Moore MP.

Entertainment on the day will come from Melrose Pipe Band, St Boswells Concert Band, Elvis impersonator Robert Hayes, a Philiphaugh re-enactment on Denholm Green and a car boot sale.