National & International

Fundraising for village school and pre-school near Buckingham after suspected arson attack

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People in the Buckingham area are flocking to support a village school and pre-school that were badly damaged in a suspected arson attack, according to the Buckingham Advertiser.

The headteacher of Roundwood Primary School said she was ‘devastated’ by the fire on Sunday night, which caused ‘significant damage’ to the infant school and the adjacent Tingewick Pre-school buildings.

At the time of going to press, a fundraising page set up to help the school and pre-school had already raised nearly £6,000, after messages of support poured in on social media.

Staff from Leaders Letting & Estate Agents, in Buckingham, will be taking part in a 10-mile walk to raise money for the school and pre-school on Tuesday October 5. They can be sponsored via their gofundme link.

Tingewick Community Cafe invited everyone to join them between 9am and noon on Friday, October 1 in Tingewick Village Hall for homemade cakes, tea and coffee, and help raise money for repairs and equipment. They are donating all the proceeds to the pre-school.

The White Hart Hotel in Buckingham is also collecting donations.

Police are still appealing for witnesses to the suspected arson attack, and say their investigation is ongoing.

The police and fire services were called at around 9pm on Sunday, September 26. Four fire engines attended the scene, and fire investigation officers are supporting Thames Valley Police in investigating the incident.

Asked whether the fire is being linked to other recent arson attacks in Buckingham, a police spokesman said: “We are not linking this to the spate of arson attacks at this time, however we remain open minded.”

And regarding social media reports of people seen running from a crashed car in Finmere around the time the fire started, the police spokesman said: “We are aware of that vehicle and are exploring the possibility that it is linked to the arson, however we are not in a position at this time to say that the occupants who made off from the vehicle are linked to the arson.”

The buildings of both the pre-school and school were put out of use following the fire.

Leigh Handley, headteacher of Roundwood Primary School, said: “Obviously, we are all devastated by the fire at our infant school site, which has sadly caused significant damage and is currently being investigated by the police.

“Our pupils switched to remote learning at the start of this week and we thank them and their families for their flexibility while we have dealt with the initial aftermath of the fire.

“We hope to reopen the school site again later this week and will be keeping our school community up to date via our usual communication channels.

“Sadly, two of our classrooms have been severely damaged but we are able to relocate pupils into other parts of the site so they can come back to school in person.

“We thank the school community for their patience and support during this difficult time.”

Detective Inspector Simon Mountain, from Aylesbury Police Station, said: “The investigation into this incident is still in its early stages. We are appealing to any witnesses to this, or anyone who may have information about what happened, to please come forward.

“Anyone with information can contact Thames Valley Police by calling 101 or making a report online, quoting reference 43210434944.

“Alternatively, if you wish to remain anonymous, you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or via their website.

“There will also be an increased police presence in the local area as we carry out our investigation.”

A message on the GoFundMe page set up to help the schools says the real victims of the suspected attack are the children, who were just getting back into a normal routine following the disruption caused by the pandemic.

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