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Facilities management team walking along path

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Edge Hill University awarded for response to primary school fire

Community involvement

Publish date: April 6, 2022

Edge Hill University’s quick-thinking response to a blaze that almost destroyed a local primary school has been recognised with an industry award for demonstrating real community spirit.

In June last year, Asmall Primary School in Ormskirk suffered a blaze which threatened to disrupt the education of children who had only recently returned to school from lockdown.

Within 24 hours, plans were being laid at Edge Hill to accommodate the pupils and less than a week later, the school was up and running in a new temporary home on campus.

The University’s response has been recognised with the Reaching Higher Award in the Association of University Directors and Estates (AUDE) Awards.

Adrian McGillion

Director of Facilities Management at Edge Hill University, Adrian McGillion, said: “There’s a well-developed sense of civic responsibility at the university. It’s a close-knit community here, many of our own staff had children at the school, and people worked hard from the very next day, rallying round, with an attitude of ‘anything we can do, we will do’.

“There were so many aspects to the work that was needed – identifying buildings that could be used, repurposing them, finding furniture that worked for children, the IT aspect, insurance, safeguarding. But there was a real willingness to make it happen. It was a fantastic joint effort between the school, our Estates and Facilities, IT and Faculty of Education colleagues who pulled out all the stops to provide them with all the essentials they needed so that the children could carry on their learning. The work made a real difference – to us as well as to them.

Faculty of Education Piazza
The Piazza Building where the school was temporarily located. Pic copyright Phil Tragen 2019

Speaking on behalf of the judges, AUDE Executive Director Jane White said: “To turn a campus into a school within a week is a massive effort. We all know the degree of disruption our children have faced during Covid, and on the day of the fire it must have seemed the very worst luck on top of an already awful period. The extent to which the university community set out to fix this really speaks of strong civic pride, but also of the ability to roll sleeves up and practically deliver whatever is necessary, something we’ve seen more than ever from our estates and facilities teams during the pandemic.”

Thanks to the incredible efforts of the University, rooms and facilities were rapidly turned into classrooms for the children to continue with their learning and development in a Covid safe environment. The school were back up and running at their temporary home on campus within a week meaning there was minimal disruption to their learning and development.

Steve Igoe
Deputy Vice-Chancellor Steve Igoe

Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Edge Hill University, Steve Igoe, said: “I’m so proud of the University’s fantastic response to the fire at Asmall Primary School.

“Teams pulled together at short notice to do whatever we could to help. To have the children on campus, to see that we’d been able to help gave us an immense sense of pride and kept the children together. We even held a ‘graduation ceremony’ for them and parents said a taste of university education at a young age could only help their child’s aspirations.

“The AUDE award is a testament to the incredible efforts of everyone involved and such a real achievement after a tough year for everyone working on this project.”

To discover more about our courses at Edge Hill, please visit ehu.ac.uk/study.   

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