School Feels The Force of Storm Eunice

21st February 2022

An independent school in Liphook has fallen foul of Storm Eunice – with a favourite old tree and the wooden score box on the edge of the cricket pitch being hit for six.

With the south of England bearing the brunt of one of the fiercest storms in recent years, with winds gusting up to 70mph on Friday, the iconic 30ft silver birch tree in the grounds of Highfield and Brookham Schools had an entire limb ripped off.

And the score box on the boundary edge fared no better as the high winds tore off the roof of the hut and demolished the frame, leaving it in tatters on the playing field.

With Highfield and Brookham closed last week for the half-term holiday, the grounds crew cleared the wreckage ahead of the children’s return to school on Monday.

The score box has been an integral part of the quaint cricketing scene at Highfield and Brookham during the spring and summer months for more than 25 years, hugging the boundary rope alongside the striking pavilion, while the accessible silver birch has for decades been a draw for adventurous Highfield children who love to climb on its lower reaches.

Ironically, plans were already in place to refurbish the score box before Storm Eunice struck, so Mother Nature has merely hastened the need for a replacement scoreboard instead.

As well as removing the debris caused by the second storm to hit the region in a matter of days, Highfield and Brookham’s grounds team have been scouring the vast estate to assess further damage, forcing Brookham’s youngsters to have their popular adventures at Forest School suspended on safety grounds.

Highfield Headmaster Phillip Evitt said: “It was incredibly sad to see the old silver birch tree and the scorer’s box on the edge of Chapel Field in such a state of devastation, being such well-known landmarks on the school scene, but that sense of loss is miniscule in comparison with the deep sense of gratitude that no-one was hurt during what was a pretty ferocious storm.

“Thankfully, the school was closed and all of our children were safe and well on their half-term holidays. Our children’s health and well-being are of paramount importance and underpin everything that we do. Trees can be replanted and buildings can be rebuilt, but people can’t be replaced.”

The school was also hit by a power cut late on Friday morning, an outage which affected many of the villages around Liphook as falling trees brought down powerlines. Power was finally restored on Sunday.