Millbrook Primary’s thanks to fire heroes who tackled moorland blaze
Friday 12th October 2018 @ 15:36 by Tom Greggan
Education News Stalybridge Tameside

School children in Stalybridge have made a tree-mendous tribute to the fire fighters who tackled the summer moorland blazes.

Pupils at Millbrook Primary – one of the main schools affected by the fire – have planted a plum tree in honour of all the fire fighters who attended the incident.

The fire raged across the moorland over Stalybridge for over three weeks in June and July but it was successfully contained and put out – fortunately with no loss to life – thanks to the efforts of the emergency services and the armed forces.

As Millbrook Primary is a leading Forest School – being named in 2016 as the first school nationally to achieve the highest level Forest School Leadership Centre Award – it was decided that planting a tree in its outdoor classroom would be a fitting way to thank those involved.

Millbrook’s school council were joined by teachers, the school’s chair of governors Mike Robinson, local councillors and fire fighters who helped to tackle the blaze.

Millbrook head teacher, Elizabeth Turner, explained: “The work that the fire fighters did was phenomenal. We were worried at several points that the fire was coming down to our school. We are a forest school so we were worried for our trees and our building. The efforts that they put in were extraordinary and we felt we needed to recognise their efforts. As a forest school, we felt a tree planting would be the perfect way to do that.”

Millbrook’s school council planted the tree on Friday on behalf of the school. They were joined by teachers, the school’s chair of governors Mike Robinson, local councillors and fire fighters who helped to tackle the blaze.

Phil Nelson, GMFRS Group Manager for Stockport and Tameside, said: “The moorland fires this summer were some of the most intense periods of work we have ever seen at Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service.

“The support we received from everyone, including partners, volunteers and our local communities was incredible and we cannot thank you enough for the donations, kind messages and offers of support. It was a real team effort and without everyone’s help our work would’ve have been a lot tougher.

Fire fighters helped pupils to plant the plum tree, which has been accompanied with a plaque thanking their extraordinary efforts.

“Thank you especially to Millbrook Primary for their refreshments to keep us going as we worked on the moors – all of our crews were very appreciative of your kind gesture. Planting a tree at the school is very thoughtful and we are delighted to be invited to the planting ceremony. The greenery in the school will help return some much needed nature to the surrounding area.”

Millbrook Primary was one of the schools closest to the blaze and had a family who had to be evacuated from their home, while many more children and staff lived right in the middle of the smoke plume.

“It was a real community approach,” Miss Turner added. “Our chair of governors was part of the response team so he was very much focused in helping our school maintain normal service. The school did have to close for several days but the parents were amazing and very understanding. We had support from the local authority and everyone pulled together. The children showed great resilience.

“As a Forest School we believe that children learn best when they have a connection to nature and we thought that planting a tree would be a symbolic way of showing our appreciation to the fire service for their brave and dedicated actions – especially as their efforts helped to save our onsite ‘forest’, which is a really valued outdoor learning environment.”