Burnham School given prestigious award

CHARLEY MANN
Last updated 05:00 27/05/2013

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When Frances Taka's husband was injured in Afghanistan, Burnham School went above and beyond caring for her family.

Now the school, which last year was facing closure under the Ministry of Education's school network overhaul, has been awarded the prestigious Chief of Army Commendation.

Dion Taka was injured in August 2012, when his patrol was ambushed in Bamiyan Province.

Two soldiers in his patrol, Lance Corporals Pralli Durrer and Rory Malone, did not make it home.

Frances Taka said that the day after she learned of the incident, Burnham principal Sandra Keenan turned up on her doorstep to offer support.

Taka had two sons attending Burnham at the time, while her daughter was at a local high school.

She had to fly overseas to help bring her husband home and felt safe knowing her children were surrounded by other Defence Force families at Burnham School.

"My children got a lot of emotional support from the school," she said.

"They allowed them to email me and my son's class wrote my husband a letter."

With her husband recovering in hospital between August and November, Taka said she would come home to find a freshly home-cooked meal for her family.

"They had a roster for dinner and for baking for every day of the week.

"Words are not enough to express how much that meant to my family."

Burnham even arranged for her children to go on a camping trip during the school holidays.

Taka said her husband was improving every day and was well on the road to recovery.

The Chief of Army Commendation award recognised the outstanding contribution Burnham School makes to Defence Force families.

Board of Trustees chairwoman Jackie Freeman said the school did not know, when it was facing closure, that the Defence Force had recommended to Parliament that Burnham should remain open.

The recommendation was endorsed by Prime Minister John Key, she said.

In February the school was told it was to stay open.

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