There was great excitement in school this week as we experienced our very first tornado. We are relieved to report no injuries or serious damage to the school – ‘nothing that can’t be fixed’ as Mrs Browne put it – but the extraordinary tempest left a trail of destruction in its wake.
It struck as the girls went out to break, smashing windows, tearing up six trees and blocking the driveway.
Hail lashed against the front of the building, leaving a winter carpet of white and the whole school lost power as kitchen staff were preparing lunch. Some of the big pictures in our entrance lobby smashed spectacularly as our big front doors were thrown open.
It was over within minutes. The sun came out as staff ventured out to assess the damage.
The most unfortunate loss was one of our beautiful window panels in the Great Hall, which has stood here for 110 years and was designed by a famous architect Norman Shaw RA. For part of the afternoon, we were completely blocked in on all sides by fallen trees.
The whole school swung into action to assist with the clear-up; lunch was about to start and the kitchen staff managed to produced food for the entire school with no power! Kind neighbours appeared on our doorstep to offer help; the power company was contacted, along with the fire brigade to clear the access to the school.
Lessons continued – some even by candlelight in the small hall – and the great fireplaces were lit to keep us all warm.
Perhaps the most touching moment of all was Mrs Cooke producing toast on sticks, cooked over an open fire; the girls will never forget it!
Our new headmistress said she was extremely touched by the way staff and pupils pulled together.
She added: “It was an amazing sight – short-lived, but intense. We immediately established that all our girls were safe and took registers. What was really lovely was how many girls offered to help. The way the team coped here was exemplary, considering how frightening it was for those few minutes. They were calm, matter of fact and kept a sense of perspective. It definitely brought out the best in Adcote.
“The kitchen staff did amazingly well under the circumstances. Our girls were in lessons as normal in the afternoon and the power came back on by 5pm so that our boarders were fed and warm.”