SCHOOL children are celebrating the opening of a new special education unit thanks to the momentous fundraising efforts of a dad who has run two marathons. 

Upton Infant School now boasts a special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) building.

Dubbed 'The Hive' - it is kitted out with interactive screens, a sensory room and a fully interactive floor projector.

Youngsters can also enjoy new indoor and outdoor classrooms.

Ashley Rogers, whose son Archie, four, attends the school, raised a whopping £22,000 to buy the kit. 

The 33-year-old was given the honour of cutting a ribbon to officially open the building in Guest Road during a ceremony earlier this week.

Bournemouth Echo: The new SEND building at Upton Infant School.

“My little boy was diagnosed with autism a couple of years ago, and he started at Upton School,” Ashley said.

“The building that they were building was incredible, but they didn’t have the funds to kit it out.

“I enjoy my running anyway, so I had the idea of doing two marathons in two days, trying to aim to raise £10,000. We ended up with over £22,000.

“It’s all for the kids really, I just enjoy giving back to the kids that need it more than I do.”

Ashley completed the Brighton marathon on April 2.

The following day, Ashley ran with a group of friends and family from Upton, through Poole, to Southbourne and back to E-Motion fitness centre in Poole to complete the back-to-back marathons.

Bournemouth Echo: One of the classrooms at the new SEND building at Upton Infant School.

Headteacher Duncan Churchill said he couldn’t thank Ashley enough for his fundraising.

“It’s humbling the fact that he put himself through that, and raised such an incredible amount of money, and has been so giving with it,” he said.

“It will just transform what we can provide for the children.

“It's something that we would have still been trying to provide in five years’ time. The fact that we can go out now and get really state-of-the-art stuff, we’ve never been in this position before. It’s incredible.”

Bournemouth Echo: Floor projector in the sensory room in the new building at Upton Infant School.

Duncan thanked the school community and the Hamwic Education Trust for getting behind the project.

He also praised assistant head and special educational needs coordinator, Nadine Dawson, for her vision over ‘many years’.

Nadine said the building will allow them to “meet the children’s needs, finally".

Bournemouth Echo: One of the classrooms at the new SEND building at Upton Infant School.

“It’s incredible. We’re all just over the moon that it’s finally happened, it’s been a long time coming. It’s been a dream since 2014,” Nadine said.

“The impact on these children now and for the future is huge.”

The school has 246 pupils, including 37 on the SEND register, between the ages of four and seven.

The Honeybees class, which is based in the new building, currently has nine pupils on education, health and care plans.

According to the headteacher, this will grow to 16 next year, representing 6.4 per cent of the school, compared to the national average of 4 per cent.

Chris Bulmer, from the Hamwic Education Trust, said the build had been “tricky” as costs climbed and delays knocked it back through the pandemic.

“We’re so grateful for the funds that have been raised because we got to the point where we’d spent all our money on the building,” she said.

“It’s fabulous that the parents and the community have been able to furnish the building to such a high standard.”

To donate to Ashley's fundraiser, visit: