Lightning strikes 600 year old oak, school play area wrecked
A 600 year old Savernake oak tree has become one of the most unfortunate victims of the storms which ripped through the Marlborough countryside on Saturday.
The oak stands in the grounds of St Katharine's School in the forest, and a lightning strike on Saturday brought around a third of the crown crashing to the ground – right onto the children's play area – although the bulk of the tree is still standing.
Those pieces of play equipment nearest the tree - which forms the school's logo and inspired the motto From Little Acorns Great Oaks Grow – were completely destroyed.
Luckily, the school building - where a major fundraising drive throughout 2016 has seen a new classroom space developed - was unscathed, although telephone and internet access have been effected.
It is understood that the school will reopen to pupils, as planned, on Monday. The play area, though, will remain fenced off for some time.
In a Facebook message to parents today (Tuesday) teacher Kevin Sandall wrote: “It is with some sadness that we are writing to tell you that, as you may have heard, we had a lightning strike to our oak on the playground over the weekend.
“About a third of the crown has come down, falling on the bark play area and destroying the climbing frame. There has been no damage to the school buildings.
"We have every reason to believe that school will open as planned on Monday 5th September.
“We apologise for sharing the news via Facebook but currently have no phone lines or Internet connection to send emails.
“We plan to have an assembly first thing and hope for the beginning of the school year to be as calm and settled as possible.”
The weekend’s storms and flash flooding caused widespread disruption across the area. At one point on Saturday afternoon, Pewsey High Street resembled a river.
There was also flooding on the A346 Marlborough-to-Swindon road.
Cars were left stranded as drivers tried – and failed – to negotiate flood waters.
Check out our video by pupil and Marlborough News Online cub reporter Milo Davison (10), who explains what the school has lost, and how he feels about the incident. It's on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MarlboroughNewsOnline/