By Nigel Slater 19/07 Updated: 19/07 13:19
DEVASTATED staff at a Vale playgroup which cares for children with learning difficulties have been left heartbroken after vandals caused more than £1,000 worth of damage.
The Avonvale Special Needs Playgroup off Woodlands in Evesham was targeted for the third time in as many months on Tuesday (July 17) when vandals set fire to the wooden wendyhouse which was popular with the children.
Valuable and much-loved toys inside the wendyhouse were also destroyed as well as surrounding fencing during the attack which officers believe took place between 7pm and 7.30pm.
The estimated cost of the damage is believed to run into four-figures and Janet Arnold from the Avon Vale Special Needs Playgroup said this was the third attack on the wendyhouse since the half-term holiday in May.
"This is really heartbreaking as we have no outside area and no wendyhouse for the children to play in now and the children here loved using it," she told the Observer.
"All the staff here are very upset over it as we all worked very hard in fund-raising to get the wendyhouse and all our efforts have just gone up in smoke.
"It has been broken into twice before since the half term Jubilee holiday in May but this is the first time they have set fire to it and destroyed it.
"To replace it we will have to do all the fund-raising again because we would not be able to get it though insurance because of the insurance access involved," she added.
Kath Jones, chairman of the charity The Evesham Adventure Playground Association who rent out the portacabin to the Avonvale Special Needs Playgroup, added: "As both ourselves and Avonvale are charities, we simply do not have the funds to replace the wendyhouse and fences.
"We will have to replace the fencing. But if we have to keep doing things like this and having to find the money for it we will seriously have to look at withdrawing things like the lighting for the sports pitch which we provide for free and some of the other services we provide.
"So it will deeply impact on the charity if we have to keep finding this amount of money to replace things that have destroyed because there are people who have got nothing else to do.
"We would ask anyone who knows anything to come forward. Anyone wishing to donate time and money to help replace these items for us then that would be greatly appreciated.
Anyone with information about the incident should call police on 0300 333 3000 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 quoting incident number 233N 170712.
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