A RESIDENTIAL school trip had to be cut short when pupils and staff suffered a crippling stomach infection.

Ten and 11-year-olds from Bournemouth’s Malmesbury Park Primary School became unwell with viral gastroenteritis and suffered severe sickness and diarrhoea.

They and the staff accompanying them then had to endure a four-hour coach trip back from an activities centre in Shropshire.

Anxious parents were forced to endure a long wait before they found out how seriously their children had been affected.

One child was taken to hospital on return to Bournemouth, and all have been told to stay at home until after next week’s half term break.

The children had been staying at a PGL activities centre in Shrewsbury since Monday, February 11.

They were due return to their Lowther Road, Charminster, school on Friday, February 15, but arrived home two days early.

Parents said children had been looking forward to the £300 trip for months and many were hugely disappointed to be home early.

One parent, who does not wish to be named, told the Daily Echo: “One pupil was taken to hospital by taxi, one teacher became very unwell and 15 other pupils became very unwell with sickness and/or diarrhoea.”

He said text messages were sent to parents but claimed there was confusion as to which children had become unwell.

He added: “The school had no choice but to put the affected and unaffected children on the same coach home for the four-hour journey.”

He said most of the children looked “very pale, exhausted and really unwell” when they stepped off the coach.

The parent added: “The teachers on the trip looked after the children really well. We just feel the school should have explained everything in more detail.”

A spokesperson for Malmesbury Park Primary said: “Unfortunately some of our children and staff became unwell with viral gastroenteritis. Given the contagious nature of this, we could not risk more children and staff becoming unwell, so we took the difficult decision to shorten the Year 6 residential.

“Obviously we don’t want anyone to be ill, but we have to be particularly mindful of having enough members of staff who are well enough to be able to look after children – our pupils’ safety is of paramount importance and we will never do anything to compromise that.

“The children had a fantastic time for the first three days of the week taking part in a whole range of activities, ranging from a zip wire and archery through to a games night and bonfire with marshmallows.

“We will be arranging an additional special treat for the Year 6s after the half-term holiday to make up for the disappointment of the residential ending early.”

A spokesperson from PGL Travel Ltd said: "We can confirm that a school group from Bournemouth who were staying at one of our centres this week had a number of children taken ill with what we understand to have been a virus. The group decided to cut their visit short.

"We take all instances of illness very seriously and have worked closely with the school staff to support them during their stay and since.

"We wish anyone who has been taken ill a very speedy recovery."

On Friday, February 8, and Monday, February 11, pupils at St Katharine’s primary in Rolls Drive, Southbourne, were told to stay at home due to the outbreak of a sickness bug.

A deep clean was undertaken at the school before students were allowed to return.