Editorial: Assistance buoys burnt Woodridge

There can be no doubt that the coming weeks and months will be some of the toughest that the Woodridge school in Thornhill has faced in its history.

Large parts of the school buildings, including some teacher residences, hostels and classrooms, went up in flames on Saturday.

Scores of pupils from all over the country and beyond had to be evacuated on Saturday morning as raging flames engulfed the Thornhill area and Van Stadens gorge.

The devastating veld fires which began last week have destroyed property and vegetation.

Tragically, an elderly couple died from sustained injuries after their farm was caught in the inferno.

Perhaps most dreadful for the Woodridge school community is not only the significant damage to property but the loss of parts of its history and institutional memory built up over the last 80 years.

Just like on the Garden Route, which has also been battling flames, the outpouring of support to the school and surrounding community in the wake of this disaster has been encouraging.

The generosity of businesses and ordinary citizens, as well other schools which have jumped in to assist, will certainly go a long way to help those affected restore what has been lost.

Speaking at the St George’s Preparatory School yesterday, Woodridge staffer Nicolette Olivier said: “Within 15 minutes of me putting out the call to St George’s that we need help for our staff, when we arrived here the hall was literally full of mattresses already and people just bringing in donations of food and toiletries and everything.

“It was amazing, I have no words actually.”

Equally commendable is the leadership and determination displayed so far by the school, which appears resolute in its plans to resume school by July 4.

The next chapter of restoration indeed calls for all hands on deck.

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