Vandals left trail of wrecked toys after running riot at playgroups

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Playgroup vandals targeted the First Opportunities sensory garden at Ashley Junior School
The First Opportunities sensory garden at Ashley Junior School was targeted by vandals

A PLAYGROUP which provides support for children with special needs was one of two attacked by vandals who burned and smashed up toys.

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The first incident was at the First Opportunities sensory garden in Ashley where entry was forced to the shed between 2pm on 4th July and 8.45am on Monday July.

A bean bag and children’s car were taken from inside and later located, badly damaged, elsewhere on the school grounds.

This is not the first time the playgroup, which is based at Ashley Junior School, has been targeted. The school has now decided to install a two-metre-high perimeter fence in an attempt to stop offenders getting into the grounds.

First Opportunities is an independent charity that provides therapeutic play and education for babies and young children with special needs, and offers support to families.

Trustee Fiona Morgan said: “Some youths came into our little sensory garden and decided to cause some havoc by wrecking our shed door which we now have to replace.

“The shed keeps the toys in, which they had thrown all over the place and one of our pedal cars was broken and completely ruined.

“We use the garden for children who have additional educational needs so they can come and experience different textures and smells, for example, as some are visually impaired or suffer from Down’s syndrome.”

A burnt purple buggy that was damaged by the playgroup vandals
A fire damaged buggy was found at the Sunshine Pre-School in the Nedderman Centre

Fiona added: “They enjoy their time in the garden and we have a lot of community support from local organisations, so it’s really disappointing that some members of the community have felt the need to trash the place.”

Staff have been forced to sweep the grounds each day over fears there may be broken glass.

Ashley junior head teacher Ian Rix said: “We are addressing the issue of vandalism at the school by getting security fencing. It is heartbreaking having to sweep the grass virtually every day because there could be shards.”

Anybody with information about this incident is asked to contact police on 101, quoting crime reference number 44190236397.

Sunshine Pre-School based in the Nedderman Centre on the North Milton estate was targeted on Tuesday.

The Sunshine Pre-School at the Nedderman Centre was also attacked by playgroup vandals
The Nedderman Centre on Marryat Road in North Milton houses the Sunshine Pre-School

A parent was driving past when they saw some youths in the pre-school’s shed before they ran off down the road.

Staff member Faye Cartwright told the A&T: “We found some of our toys had been destroyed so had to keep them away from the children, and there is broken glass all over the park so we can’t use it.

“The vandals have burnt one of our play buggies, destroyed one of the plastic tables and broken a new shopping trolley toy. Luckily people have rallied round and we have received donations of toys for the children to use.

“It’s not nice at all and for someone to think it is fun to burn a child’s buggy is just really silly. We are a charity run playschool so anything we buy or are given is such a help.”

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