Save Meldreth Manor group takes campaign to 10 Downing Street in a final push before decision made

From left to right: Karen Sheairs, Amanda Campbell, Paula Morrison, Heidi Allen MP, Josh Campbell an

From left to right: Karen Sheairs, Amanda Campbell, Paula Morrison, Heidi Allen MP, Josh Campbell and Rian Morrison. - Credit: Archant

In a final plea to save a special school and transition service from permanent closure, a petition with almost 7,000 signatures was delivered by parents and pupils to 10 Downing Street on Tuesday.

Maddie with son Oliver

Maddie with son Oliver - Credit: Archant

It’s the last push for campaigners who have spent months fighting to keep Meldreth Manor School and Orchard Manor Transition Service open – after the Scope board of trustees proposed to close the school back in July.

The Save Meldreth Manor campaign group, which has gained support from film star Nick Frost and singer Peter Andre, was joined at No.10 by South Cambridgeshire MP Heidi Allen, who urged disability charity Scope to do everything in its power to not ‘shut the door’.

She said: “By delivering this petition, I hope we will have reinforced our message to Scope.

“We need to find another solution for the young people and families who rely on the services at Orchard and Meldreth Manor – we can’t just shut the door.

David Cameron, Prime Minister

David Cameron, Prime Minister - Credit: Submitted

“I urge Scope to do everything in its power to either retain some essential service provision or transfer the facility as a whole to a new provider. Please don’t turn your back on these vulnerable young people.”

Scope is exploring the option of selling the service to another provider, and said an announcement about the future of the school will not be made until at least mid-November.

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Amanda Campbell, whose 10 year-old son Josh uses the respite service, was one of the campaigners who delivered the petition by hand to Prime Minister David Canmeron’s front door.

She said: “We are absolutely devastated to learn of Scope’s plans to close Meldreth Manor. The care my son receives there is outstanding – he has made many new friends and looks forward to having some independent time away from home. Without it, I really don’t know where else Josh could go.”

Maddie Standen’s son Oliver has cerebral palsy, and also uses the weekend respite service.

She said: “We were shocked and disappointed when Scope said they were proposing to close the school.

“I don’t know where Oliver could go. Our nearest respite service is in Harlow, but it’s so oversubscribed.

“Oliver has been using the service for almost three years. He loves it. He loves the staff, and gets really excited to go. I really hope it’s going to be sold to the third party.

“A school cannot operate based on local authority funding alone, they need to fundraise as well.

“It’s not just about Meldreth, this campaign is about the lack of services available for young people in general. Why should children be penalised?”