Northern Ireland

Arvalee Special School: new fundraising committee launched after fire

Catherine Logue
Image caption Catherine Logue said the new group "cannot wait" to start fundraising

A new fundraising committee has been launched to support the rebuilding of a County Tyrone school destroyed by fire at the start of this month.

Arvalee Special School in Omagh was extensively damaged on 1 September.

The newly-formed committee hopes to harness support from the community, to help the school get back on site in temporary buildings in the new year.

The new committee chair, Catherine Logue, said they were "overwhelmed" by local support for the rebuild effort.

An emergency meeting to discuss the issue was held on Tuesday evening.

Parents of Arvalee pupils addressed the meeting to express how much the school means to their children.

Image caption Arvalee Special School was extensively damaged in the fire on 1 September

The facility caters for 103 pupils aged from three to 19, who have moderate through to severe learning difficulties.

Under temporary arrangements put in place in the aftermath of the fire, primary school age pupils are currently being bussed to two sites - one at Knockavoe in Strabane and the other at St Eugene's High School in Castlederg.

From next week, Arvalee's post-primary pupils will also be accomodated in Castlederg.

Arvalee opened in 2004, and before the fire broke out, plans were in place to build a replacement school at Lisanelly educational campus site.

Last week the Education Minister, John O'Dowd, promised that plan would be fast-tracked.

Speaking after the meeting, Ms Logue said: "Everyone that is here tonight is just so overwhelmed by the support and cannot wait to get to balls rolling, to get the fundraising started."

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