AN AMAZING community effort raised £9,000 to make sure a badly-vandalised special needs school could open again.
St Francis Special School in Fareham was targeted several times over the half-term break and again the week after.
But when members of the local community heard about the devastating damage, they swooped in to action and gave their support by raising thousands of pounds to pay for damages and to lift the spirits.
Headteacher Steve Hollinghurst said: ‘It’s brilliant to open up again and to see the children’s faces.
‘They were so happy when they came into school. They were saying how happy they were.
‘It’s great to have them back. Without children, the school isn’t anything.’
What really is important is that people know a lot more about children with special educational needs now than they did beforeSteve Hollinghurst, headteacher
The school was broken into several times. Windows were smashed, furniture was broken and children’s work was ruined. In total it caused around £15,000 of damage.
The school closed for more than a week while repairs were carried out.
Emily Hodgson, from Portchester, was so annoyed when she read about the damage that she decided to set up a fundraising day and rally the community.
On Sunday, a fundraiser was held at the Hoeford Inn in Gosport Road, Fareham where around £2,000 was raised through fundraising activities and entertainment.
Emily said: ‘We had a lot of support from different people. It felt like the community had really come together.’
The rest was raised online and through donations from shops and businesses in the area.
Mr Hollinghurst added: ‘It’s absolutely overwhelming. I would not have believed that they would have been so positive.
‘What really is important is that people know a lot more about children with special educational needs now than they did before and about all the special work that goes on for them.
‘These schools are often isolated and now people know about us which is great.’
The school is looking at using some of the money to buy outdoor play equipment for the children.
Emma Shepherd, 36, from Lee-on-the-Solent, has a 12-year-old son, James, who attends the school.
She said she has been pleased with the response from the community.
‘It’s been absolutely amazing. Everyone comes together when there’s a disaster.’