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School's flooded after thieves steal roof lead; Pupils' work wrecked in Easter raid.

Byline: Carys Lewis

A PRIMARY school was flooded after thieves stole lead flashing from the roof.

Carpets, textbooks, fittings and children's work were all left wrecked by the deluge that poured into Tref Y Rhyg school in Tonyrefail.

Staff and governors were yesterday counting the cost of the damage after giving up their Bank Holiday Monday to try to patch the vast gaps in the roof left by the thieves.

Firefighters were also called in to help the nine teachers and governors who were battling the flooding, but much of their work on Monday was undone as the rain continued to pour in overnight and yesterday morning.

Headteacher Clair Jones said: "It was only (on Monday) we realised what had happened, because the rain coming into the building was so bad it triggered the alarm.

"The damage is just unbelievable.

They've stolen lead from a huge area of the roof - about 4ft x 40ft - and when we came in we found two classrooms ankle-deep in water and the corridor completely flooded where a suspended ceiling has fallen down.

"The carpets are saturated, we've had books ruined because of the water damage, and the children's work on the walls has all had to be ripped down. They'll be devastated when they realise, as a lot of hard work goes into their displays."

Mrs Jones said the thieves are thought to have struck between Good Friday and overnight on Easter Sunday.

Although the school's CCTV cameras were covered, she is hopeful the vandals may have been captured on cameras belonging to other businesses nearby on The Avenue.

Mrs Jones said yesterday: "Because it rained again last night, we had to start again this morning, but we did put out paddling pools to catch the water overnight, so it wasn't quite as bad.

"RCT Council have been out to us today and we are really hopeful they will be able to repair it today, but it's going to be a big, expensive job." She estimated the costs would "easily run into the thousands".

She said: "I will more than likely be here most days of the holidays now, as will many of the governors, because we are determined the children's education will not suffer as a result of this.

"We are really hopeful the school will be open at the start of term and if necessary we will accommodate all of the children in the rooms that weren't damaged."

Darrenlas Primary School in Mountain Ash was also flooded when thieves stripped the roof of its lead over the bank holiday.

Sports clubs, railways, churches, crematoriums, hospitals and homeowners have all fallen victim to metal thieves who cash in on the high prices for scrap copper, lead, steel and other metals.

A Rhondda Cynon Taf Council spokesman said they were "absolutely appalled by the blatant thefts".

He added: "Metal theft costs the council - and its taxpayers - over a quarter of a million pounds a year." * Anyone with information should call police on 101. If calling about Tref Y Rhyg, quote reference 62120114948.

CAPTION(S):

* A picture of the damage taken by school governor Jason Howells * Tref Y Rhyg headteacher Clair Jones sits in a classroom surrounded by ruined books after lead flashing was stolen from the roof of the school
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 11, 2012
Words:546
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