TREES planted at a Barnstaple school in memory of victims of the Dunblane massacre have been hacked down by contractors, provoking anger from those who planted them.
But the school’s head teacher says the trees had to come down to enable essential work to improve the school’s facilities to go ahead.
Staff and pupils at Pilton Community College planted 16 hardwood trees and an oak on the school grounds 17 years ago, in memory of the 16 pupils and their teacher who were killed in 1996 in Scotland.
The victims lost their lives when Thomas Hamilton entered Dunblane Primary School on March 13, 1996, armed with four handguns and opened fire.
With staff and pupils at schools across the United Kingdom shocked at the incident, many decided to commemorate the shooting.
At Pilton a group of teachers and pupils opted to plant the trees and the Journal covered the story.
Among the people involved in the planting were teachers Ricky Knight and Roger Tyler, both now retired.
“It was such a tragedy and not to make the connection that as fellow educators and pupils we were emotionally invested in it seemed wrong,” said Mr Knight.
He was shocked to learn the trees had been cut down by contractors Barratt and Canniford, based in Taunton.
“I’m incensed,” he said. “One or two were damaged over the years in genuine accidents but they’ve grown from saplings to solid hardwood trees over two and a half metres tall.
“Now they’ve just been chainsawed and I can see no reason for it.”