Pupils with family in quake start appeal

9th February 2001 at 00:00
Leicester school raises funds to help rebuild Gujarat. Julie Henry reports

A Leicester secondary where pupils lost relatives in the Gujarat earthquake has started raising money to rebuild a school in the devastated region.

Most of Rushey Mead school's 1,300 students have ties to the region in north-west India. One 14-year-old pupil, Sapna Dattani, said her aunt had escaped from a collapsed building to discover friends and relatives had been killed.

Sapna said: "I visited six years ago and couldn't believe the pictures on the TV after the earthquake. We were all really worried about family. I think we have to do all we can to help." Headteacher Steve White said there were about 50,000 people from the region now living in Leicester.

"All have been directly or indirectly affected by the earthquake. The students are amazingly resilient and working away as usual but thee is a cloud hanging over the school."

A remembrance service involving community leaders of all faiths and representatives from other schools was held at Rushey Mead this week. Film director Lord Attenborough, who went to school in Leicester, has donated pound;1,000 to the school's appeal.

Mr White said: "People have come together in adversity and are looking at both the spiritual and practical side of the disaster."

Meanwhile, Chalfont county primary school in Bolton has opened a book of condolence for pupils to sign.

Eight-year-old Faheema Patel, who attends the school, has written a poem about the disaster. She said she still hoped that those trapped under the rubble would be rescued and thanked the countries that have provided emergency aid.

International, 16 For details of how to contribute to the appeal e-mail the headteacher at Sjwhite@connect.com

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