SCHOOLCHILDREN “overwhelmed” by the hospitality shown by Harrow cinema staff during a fire evacuation handed over Thank You cards to show the enormity of their gratitude.
Pupils at Norbury School in Welldon Crescent, Harrow, spent more than three-and-a-half hours inside Vue Cinema in St George's Shopping Centre in St Ann's Road on Monday March 7 after seeking refuge from a furious fire that broke out at an MOT garage in Hindes Road at 12.15pm.
Headteacher Lou Browning said: “A parent telephoned to inform that Parrs Garage, which backs onto our junior playground, was on fire, and we made sure our children were inside.
“One of the gas cylinders exploded, rocking the school, and it was really scary for some of our younger children.”
When it became clear the school could not follow its normal evacuation route past Parrs Garage, the police asked where else all 483 pupils could be accommodated and the shopping centre was suggested.
A few phone calls later and the children were occupying two empty cinema screens, although there were not enough 3D glasses to go around to allow them to watch the scheduled film, 'Gnomeo And Juliet'.
Instead staff from Marks and Spencer in St Ann's Road brought snacks and water for the youngsters and teachers arranged impromptu singing and dancing shows in the among other activities to keep the children busy while waiting for parents to come and collect them.
“We were overwhelmed by the generosity,” said Ms Browning.
“We thought we were going to have to stand around in St George's Shopping Centre and keep out of everybody's way but the cinema opened their doors to us - there was no moaning and groaning.
“The pupils felt really strongly the cinema had 'saved' them and therefore every class wrote Thank You cards.
“There was one card per class but lots of children wrote their personal comments.”
A delegation representing the whole school returned to the cinema on Monday (Mar 14) to hand over the Thank You cards to staff members.
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