SCHOOLS across the district have been praised for holding Claret and Amber days in aid of the Bradford Burns Research Unit.

Pupils have embraced an initiative to raise money to support its pioneering work by wearing Bradford City colours ahead of the 30th anniversary on Monday of the Valley Parade fire disaster.

Yesterday, hundreds of youngsters wore shirts, hats, scarves and badges in exchange for donations to the burns unit.

The Wear Claret and Amber initiative really took off thanks to Bradford mums Michelle Rowntree and Julie Sharpe, who were keen for children to have an awareness of the tragedy.

Mrs Rowntree, of Eccleshill, said: "We are completely overwhelmed, in the little time had, with how many have embraced the idea. I really am hoping this will be a yearly event.

"I got a little bit emotional seeing the children all dressed in claret and amber on my way to work - it is just fantastic. We have had some lovely messages, too, from people who were affected by the fire, thanking us for keeping the memories alive and getting the recognition it deserves.

"We have such an amazing community sometimes."

Among the schools taking part were St Walburga's Primary School, Shipley, where more than £200 was raised by children wearing claret and amber.

Teacher Liz Fearnley said: "Some of the children had heard that other schools were doing it and approached the head teacher to ask about doing their own.

"They are avid supporters and are always keen to do some fundraising."

At Wellington Primary, more than £600 was raised as pupils wore claret and amber, enjoyed horse rides, played a 'guess how many sweets in the jar' game, and sold buns.

Children at Fearnville Primary paid 50p to wear City shirts or colours and helped raise more than £200. During the day children did work based around the fire including poetry, art and creative writing. One boy made an A1-sized collage that is now on display in the school hall.

Teacher Daniel Cassidy said: "It's great to see children showing so much respect to those who lost their lives 30 years ago. It makes me very proud to be their teacher."

Pupils at Harden Primary School raised more than £200. As well as wearing claret and amber, they watched a moving tribute about the tragedy and planted a tree that was donated by Woodbank Nurseries in Bingley.

Head teacher Kirsty Hutchinson said: "I felt it was important the children recognised that people in their own community had been affected directly or indirectly by such tragic events.

"On a positive note it was a perfect opportunity to raise money for such a worthy cause."

Helen Avison, of Woodbank Nurseries, said: "It was important to us to support the school and we felt it was a more memorable way for the children and the community to pay tribute.

"Planting this tree together and having it growing and flourishing in the school grounds, is a beautiful way to remember the 56."

Alan Carling, chairman of Bradford City Supporters Board, keeps a record of all donations to the Plastic Surgery and Burns Research Unit (PSBRU) at Yesterday the total smashed through the £135,000 barrier, reaching £136,801.

On the schools' efforts, Mr Carling said: "I think it is fantastic."