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Kings Cross stage school rises from the ashes

PUBLISHED: 09:32 23 July 2011 | UPDATED: 15:36 23 July 2011

IGZ-WK26-11-Poor school

IGZ-WK26-11-Poor school

Archant

Students from a stage school wrecked by fire a few weeks ago have pitched in with more than 1,000 hours voluntary work to get the place back on its feet.

The Poor School, in Pentonville Road, King’s Cross, which counts EastEnders star Jessie Wallace among its former pupils, was gutted by a blaze last month.

But, thanks to the tireless work of students which involved more than 40 tonnes of debris being cleared, all the end of year performances went ahead and only one short course was cancelled.

Paul Caister, 56, who runs the school, said: “The way the students have helped has been well above expectations. You expect people to dig in in a crisis, but they have gone much further than that. When things have settled down, we are planning an appeal so we can pay them something.

“We absolutely had to keep the short courses open, because from each one several people go on to do the longer course, and without them we could be in trouble.

“It’s been a revelation in a strange sort of way, because we are so focused on getting the place sorted that all normal worries fade away. I suppose it is a little bit like when some awful thing happens to you and your perspectives change, you are just glad to be alive.”

Targeted

Police are treating the fire, which was tackled by around 20 firefighters in the early hours of June 22, as suspicious.

Earlier, Mr Caister, who has been running the scvhool for 27 years, said: “I am sure it was arson, because it was started in five separate places and they targeted the office where all the records are.

Many of the students have been happy to give up their time to get the school shipshape again.

Ben Donaldson, 21, a first year student at the school, said: “It hasn’t been too disruptive and it has kind of given everyone a boost in a way because we have all pulled together and helped to clean up. At the end of the day, it is our school and we want to get it back on its feet.”

Fellow first year student Janey Morrey said: “Everyone has been trying to carry on as normal. Because of the fire damage we did one of our end of year performances in the park. Luckily it was a nice day and it went really well. Our teacher said she would do it outside every year from now on.”

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