A SCHOOL suffered thousands of pounds worth of damage after thieves damaged its roof stealing lead flashings.

Pupils and staff at Whinfield Primary School were devastated to find scores of ruined books when rain water came flooding through the roof.

But the Darlington school’s fortunes were reversed when parents swiftly rallied round to raise funds to replace all of the damaged books and one generous parent wrote a cheque to cover the school’s insurance claim.

Michelle Charlton, school manager, said it was absolutely ‘heartbreaking’ to find the damage just weeks after the children returned to school after the summer holidays.

The Northern Echo:

The damaged school roof

She said: “We came in to find the roof severely damaged but it was only as we had a closer look around the school the we noticed that carpets were absolutely sodden and that all the books that are in our reading scheme had been ruined.

“The leak was right in the centre of the school so that water just spread everywhere – the children were really upset about the books when they came in."

Once the mopping up and roof repairs were underway the staff turned their attention to replacing the water-damaged books.

Mrs Charlton said she overwhelmed by the generosity and support of parents and the Friends of Whinfield School who immediately started a fundraising campaign.

She said: "One parent just donated the £500 to cover the cost of our insurance premium and in a couple of days the Friends have raised £590 to help replace the books. I had already ordered some replacements and the children are back reading again – which is the important thing.

"That's what hurt the most – the damage to the reading scheme – because being able to read is the most important gift that we can offer to children.

The Northern Echo:

Some of the damaged books

"The support that we have had has been amazing but it was all for some lead flashings that were probably worth just £20 to the thieves.

"We have now had the roof repaired and we are very grateful to Darlington Borough Council for doing it so quickly and making sure that the building is watertight again.

"This is not the fist time that thieves have caused thousands of pounds worth of damage as we were targeted during the summer holidays last year but we able to repair the damage before the children returned to school. Thankfully, there is no longer any lead on the roof."

Anyone wanting to donate to the school's fundraising campaign should visit www.justgiving.com and search for the school.