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Watch: Lurgan principal hails community spirit after arsonists destroy children’s play area

"The community of Lurgan and far beyond have really rallied and contacted me, the amount of love I am feeling from the community is substantial"

The Lurgan community spirit has shone through in the aftermath of a fire which left the nursery garden play area of Harrison Nursery School devastated by fire. 

The shelter, which was completing gutted on Friday evening, was wholly funded by the tremendous fundraising efforts of principal, Jill Hunter, and her hardworking team.

“The shelter was created by the staff crafting all through the winter time,” Mrs Hunter told Armagh I.

“We sold the crafts and raised £1,000. That paid for the wood and my cousin Red Odgers, who is a well known character from the birches built the shelter. The shelter has provided us with so many wonderful opportunities to be with the children. I was just devastated on Friday night.”

Now it seems that the community of Lurgan has rallied around the principal and staff of Harrison Primary School to help rebuild the forest garden.

With fundraising on a GoFundMe page reaching just over £2,500 (at the time of publishing), Mrs Hunter spoke to Armagh I of the overwhelming support from local businesses, as well as the local community.

Mrs Hunter expresses her deep sadness at the loss of the items she describes as “irreplaceable”.

“The community of Lurgan and far beyond have really rallied and contacted me, the amount of love I am feeling from the community is substantial,” she said.

“I am not going to be beaten and my children are not going to be disadvantaged”.

“The school commenced a clean up of the area on Saturday and with the help of the community, cleared the fire damaged structure”.

“It was really emotional seeing it all come down and as we were taking it down we started to save the screws and bolts.”

Lurgan College art club will now take on the task of creating a project for the new area.

“It looks to be youths who started the fire and they need our help as much as I need the help. They need support and direction.”

In an emotional plea to youth, Mrs Hunter, said: “If your friends are doing things that you think is not a good idea, stand up to them and tell them.

“The help just keeps coming and it is mending my broken heart, on Friday night my heart was broken.”

You can donate to the GoFundMe page here.

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