Manager of pre-school damaged by fire 'amazed and touched' by support from the community

'Without the support of the community, we wouldn't have been in a position to reopen on Monday morning,' says Tingewick Pre-school manager

Thursday, 7th October 2021, 3:18 pm

A village pre-school has managed to reopen in an alternative venue, just a week after being badly damaged by fire.

Tingewick Pre-school and nearby Roundwood Infant School were both damaged in a suspected arson attack on Sunday, September 26.

While the school was able to reopen at the end of last week, the pre-school buildings remain unusable.

Ready to welcome the children back on Monday morning

But after a week of hard work, the pre-school reopened on Monday in its temporary new venue of Gawcott Village Hall.

Pre-school manager Heidi Turnock told the Advertiser: "We've been really fortunate to be able to use Gawcott Village Hall full time. So we're doing mornings this week and then as of next week we're back to full time, which is 9am to 3pm every day.

"We're very fortunate as well because Gawcott Pre-school used to be there and we've managed to use a lot of the resources that Gawcott Pre-school had that were still at the hall. So we've been able to get set up quite quickly, quicker than we would have been able to manage at any other time really. It's made a big difference to us."

Heidi said the help from the local community has been "amazing", with donations of £1,760 from the Tingewick Community Cafe and £100 from the Gawcott Harvest Festival.

Pre-school manager Heidi Turnock and children in the pre-school's new venue of Gawcott Village Hall

A GoFundMe page set up in support of Roundwood Primary School and Tingewick Pre-school has raised £6,360, Tesco Buckingham has donated an additional £500, and staff at Leaders estate agents raised £500 from a sponsored walk.

"We've been so fortunate," said Heidi. "We put an Amazon wishlist out because, while there were resources at Gawcott, we needed some other bits and pieces to make it more homely.

"So we submitted an Amazon wishlist which we put on our Facebook page and was shared many many time over across social media.

"And everything we put on our list has been ordered - we may not have received it yet but it's been ordered. It's amazing, it's absolutely amazing.

Story time at the pre-school

"We can't even begin to say how grateful we are. The support we've had from Tingewick, and actually the Buckingham community as a whole and the surrounding villages, has been incredible and we've been really touched by it actually.

"Every time you think that's it, someone else pops up with something.

"We've had lots of supplies. The Royal Latin School have given us art supplies, a number of pre-schools in Brackley have given us donations of resources and bits and pieces, so we've been inundated really. It's been amazing.

"Without the support of the community, we wouldn't have been in a position to reopen on Monday morning. It's the only way we would have managed it."

The pre-school is up and running in its new venue

Heidi and the pre-school committee are still waiting to find out if and when they will be able to get into their own building again.

"You can't see it outside but there's a lot of damage internally," Heidi said. "Whatever happens with the pre-school, we don't think we'll be back any time within this academic year."

But she added: "We're positive. We've said really it's an opportunity - we'll just build back stronger.

"Last week was really difficult and we're going to have bumps along the way without a doubt, but currently we're feeling we can do this and we've got to be positive for the children if nothing else.

"We're strong and we will come back stronger again."