Felsted school fire

05 July 2018

A devastating fire at the start of the school summer holidays reduced Follyfield Boarding House to rubble. Within hours, 61 pupils and staff were homeless.

Removing all obstacles to do the right thing

After identifying our customer’s immediate needs for suitable safe accommodation, so that the school could re-open at the start of the school year, we assembled and led a team of industry experts.
 
In less than less than six weeks, and in good time for the start of the school year, we successfully planned and executed the complex demolition of the existing building and construction of the temporary boarding house accommodation for the students and house mistress.

Experience with complex claims

A specialist team involving Ecclesiastical, Marsh Insurance Brokers and Crawford’s Loss Adjusters were on site the day after the fire. 
 
Ecclesiastical issued an immediate payment of £50,000 to ensure that the school didn’t have to worry about policy cover or funding. Throughout the process, Ecclesiastical made advanced payments to ensure the school always had sufficient funds to meet their ongoing needs.
 
A project manager was appointed to oversee the installation of temporary accommodation for the girls to sleep in, as well as to start the ongoing project of demolition and planning a brand new boarding house in a new location nearer to the other boarding houses.
 
Ecclesiastical found a solution to rehouse the boarders by creating a mini hotel on the existing 90 acre school site. A two-storey complex of modular buildings was erected.
 
This involved detailed preparation and coordination with multiple expert suppliers to ensure that the site was considered stable enough to bear the load of the buildings. 
 
Forty eight trailers were needed to bring the required parts to the site which was a complex exercise as roads into the village were very narrow. Parts of the access had to be closed off to other traffic whilst the temporary buildings were delivered.
Ecclesiastical’s knowledge, coupled with Marsh’s experience, enabled the school to open in September for “business as usual”, six weeks after the incident.

Marsh, Insurance broker

Further logistical issues had to be resolved in order to ensure suitable services such as electricity, water and drainage were in place.
 
The site itself was close to the village of Great Dunmow so the local residents, being a priority for the school, were informed at each stage.

Going above and beyond

Follyfield House was rebuilt over a period of two and a half years at a cost of £6million. The school suffered no loss of fee revenue as a result of the fire. 
 
Despite the extreme weather in 2015 which resulted in a lack of available labour and materials, Ecclesiastical delivered the rebuild on time and within budget.
 
The boarding house was officially opened by Her Majesty The Queen who unveiled a plaque in commemoration of the rebuilding when she visited to celebrate Felsted School’s 450th anniversary. The school is one of a handful which can claim this historic milestone.
 
The new boarding house was designed as a modern, safe and environmentally friendly building for the female students. Special features were added such as under-floor heating which connected to an air source heat pump to ensure that the building was environmentally friendly. With safety in mind, state of the art security systems were also added to control access to the building.
 
We constructed the building closer to the other accommodation at the centre of the school site and accommodated improvements such as spacious common rooms, a well-equipped kitchen, study and relaxation areas.
 
A slightly more unusual aspect of the claim was that Ecclesiastical paid for the replenishment of the lake in the grounds of a neighbouring property which had been drained virtually dry.
At the re-opening celebration, the Ecclesiastical team joined the staff, students and parents for a service of celebration in the school chapel and a guided tour of the new building.

The School is most appreciative of the support we have received from Ecclesiastical & Marsh

From the day after the fire and throughout the following two and a half years, they have always been extremely helpful which has meant a great deal to us as we dealt with the emotional impact of the aftermath of the fire. In all aspects of the claim, whether it be arranging for temporary boarding accommodation for sixty girls, supporting the site clearance and the design and build of the new boarding house, or reimbursing our students for possessions lost in the fire, we have been very well looked after. The School has been treated with great professionalism and care, and we are very grateful.

Margaret Mckenna, Bursar at Felsted school