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Pupils' Spanish trip saved after passports stolen from school
BURGLARS stole a safe which contained the passports of 53 pupils- just two days before they were due to fly out to Spain.
Undeterred- staff put an emergency plan into action and through sheer determination they managed to process new passports which were ready hours before they were due to set off.
Between 11pm on Monday and 7am on Tuesday burglars broke into the Finance Office at Chesham Grammar School.
They demolished an outside wall and took the safe, which they loaded into a wheelbarrow and wheeled across the school field into a car.
There was not much money in the safe, but contained the passports belonging to a group of Year 11 pupils due to set off at 4.30am on the Thursday for a half-term educational trip to Spain.
Assistant head, Alan Roe, said: ‘There was a real Dunkirk Spirit at CGS with numerous staff working late into the evening over the last two days to rescue the trip and it is really good for everyone involved that we got a successful result.
"It is a privilege to work with staff who are so totally committed to our students. I ought to say that the Passport Office were quite incredible and threw a lot of staff into the project, even staying open until 9.30pm to allow the rest of the passports to be printed after their usual printing system broke midway through the print run."
When the news of the burglary broke Mr Roe took charge of a task force operation while HR advisor and educational visits co-ordinator, Alison Kellett began a series of telephone calls to the Her Majesty's Passport Office to apply for 53 new passports.
The Home Office assigned a team of people to deal with the applications which had to be presented to them in London at 7.30am the next day (Wednesday).
Application and ‘Lost and Stolen’ forms were ordered from the Chesham post office and a photographer came into school to take passport photographs.
Parents came in to sign forms on Tuesday night, which were done by 10pm, and early the following morning Mr Roe and exams officer, Julia Gamaleldeen set off on their emergency mission.
Everybody at the school waited anxiously and then at 9.30pm the news came through that all passports processed and printed.
Ms Kellett said: "I have nothing but praise for Her Majesty’s Passport Office, and in particular area customer services manager, Valerie Ward, who was on hand all day to answer questions and give advice on what measures were needed."
Trip leader, Natasha Widdison said: "I have felt so touched by the way both staff and students have responded to save the trip. Everyone has gone out of their way to make it happen. Words do not describe how overwhelmed I feel right now."
If you saw or heard anything suspicious at the time the safe was stolen or have any other information call police on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.