School trip to Parliament cancelled after deadly terror attack

A group of children from Chatburn Primary School could easily have been caught up in the horrors that engulfed London yesterday.

School Council members from Chatburn Primary School with MP Nigel Evans during his visit to the school
School Council members from Chatburn Primary School with MP Nigel Evans during his visit to the school

Eleven pupils and four teachers from the Sawley Road-based school were due to travel to Parliament early this morning (Thursday) as part of a planned visit to shadow Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans at work.

During yesterday's terrifying attack, a man drove a car along a pavement in Westminster knocking down pedestrians, leaving dozens injured.

He then stabbed a policemen and was shot by police in the grounds of Parliament. Police have confirmed five people have died, including an unarmed police officer, and many others have sustained "catastrophic injuries".

Mrs Emma Gardiner, headteacher of Chatburn Primary School, said a decision was quickly made to cancel the trip.

She said: "News emerged yesterday afternoon when a parent rang and said gunshots had been heard in Westminster and we were not sure at that time if it was a terrorist-related incident.

"As the scale of the incident became clear, a decision was made to cancel the trip to Parliament."

Mrs Gardiner said she was disappointed for the pupils, who spent months fundraising to purchase the tickets for their eagerly-awaited experience, but stressed the children's safety is paramount.

She explained: "We had planned the trip to Parliament a few months ago following a visit from MP Nigel Evans to the school.

"Eleven pupils from Years 3, 4, 5 and 6 who are on the School Council, accompanied by four teachers, were scheduled to travel at 7am this morning to the capital. We do not want to give into terrorism, but at the same time the kids safety is paramount to us."

She added: "Over the past few months they held a number of fundraising activities to buy the train tickets, which cost £600."

"Yes, the children are really upset and disappointed today, but it really hit home that had the trip been planned 24 hours earlier, our pupils could easily have been caught up in the horrors of Westminster.

"We are just relieved that our pupils are safe and well."

Since the attack, Nigel Evans, who was placed under security lockdown in Parliament after the shooting, said: "My thoughts are with those who are injured and the security services dealing with the situation."

This morning (Thursday) he tweeted: "In defiance of terrorism which can never win, The Commons will sit as usual at 9-30am and today we remember those who lost their lives."

In another tweet he said: "An open invitation to Chatburn school who were due to visit Parliament today - please come soon - our democracy will never be defeated!"

Looking ahead, Mrs Gardiner said: "Although we've had an open invitation from Nigel Evans MP to visit parliament, we haven't yet decided what we will do and it will be in consultation with the parents whether or not we plan to go to London in the near future."