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Saved from flood by the sack race

Staff fill sports day bags with play sand

A SCHOOL has been saved from floods - by a sack race. Hessian sacks bought for sports day were filled with sand and piled up at Garforth Green Lane primary in Leeds to keep rising water at bay.

The playground was already under water when Hazel Willis, the head, and her teachers swung into action as water threatened.

Sand trays were emptied. More sand came from a nearby building site. And the sack barrier kept damage to a minimum after 4 inches of rain fell on parts of Yorkshire in 24 hours, the heaviest on record.

Ms Willis said: "The playground was like a swimming pool. Staff were filling up sandbags and were on mop duty and wet-vac duty. They all went well above and beyond the call of duty." Garforth Green Lane was not alone.

Nine schools in Leeds, 47 in Sheffield, 23 in Barnsley, and many others were affected.

At Beechwood primary in Leeds staff were recruited to mop up corridors and dry off school equipment. John Beckett, the head, said: "There was debris to clear out and books to wipe off. It was a wartime spirit." Schools were also affected by the disruption to transport networks, including the closure of sections of the M1.

But other pupils had no choice about whether or not to attend. Many GCSE and A-level candidates were forced to travel across flooded roads in order to sit their exams in otherwise closed schools.

For Hazel Willis, too, the impact of the flood will continue. "We have sports day next week," she said. "Not many people make sacks any more and it took us a long time to find ours. Now we need to find some more."

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