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St Gregory's Catholic school in Margate defends refugee walk on hottest day of year

A primary school has come under fire after pupils walked five times round a field on the hottest day of the year to show solidarity with refugees.

Children at St Gregory's Catholic school in Margate took on the trek yesterday in the sweltering heat.

With temperatures topping 30 degrees, the grandparent of a pupil branded the decision "disgusting" in a Facebook post that provoked almost 300 comments.

St Gregory's Catholic Primary School, Margate. Picture: Google Maps
St Gregory's Catholic Primary School, Margate. Picture: Google Maps

The post - on the New Thanet Chat residents' group - heavily divided opinion before it was removed by administrators.

Many supported the initiative, while others said it should have been abandoned because of the hot weather, which prompted a warning by the Met Office to stay out of the sun if possible.

But acting head teacher Diane Rougvie-Fevrier says the walk was optional and water and hats were provided.

"Children were invited to walk around the school field and we were overwhelmed with the number of children who chose to join in," she said

"Although the day was hot, the children enjoyed the early-morning stroll in the shade and had plenty of water and hats to wear."

The walk was part of the school's spiritual day, with a representative from CAFOD (Catholic Agency for Overseas Development) giving talks to the children.

Pupils took on the walk as part of the organisation's campaign Share the Journey, which was launched by Pope Francis to recognise people who are forced to flee war, poverty, persecution or natural disasters.

Ms Rougvie-Fevrier added: "Pope Francis wanted to show solidarity with our global neighbours by encouraging people to walk and represent the journeys they have made.

"St Gregory's Catholic primary school children wanted to add their steps to the target of 24,900 miles, which is the distance around the world.

"John Darby, from CAFOD, came in to support the morning and shared information with the children about the purpose of the walk.

"Both children and staff had a wonderful uplifting morning and we are proud of our contribution to Pope Francis' campaign."

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