Arsonists ruin childrens’ Christmas

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CHRISTMAS celebrations at an Atherton school have been ruined after callous arsonists destroyed outdoor stores with trees, decorations and nativity costumes inside.

Staff and pupils at Hindsford Primary School were left devastated as they turned up for lessons yesterday to find incinerated PE equipment also among the charred remains.

Fire at Hindsford primary school, Atherton

Fire at Hindsford primary school, Atherton

The malicious act took place on Monday night at around 8pm when firefighters were called to the blaze.

They couldn’t prevent one of the buildings, with equipment for breakfast and after-school clubs, being totally destroyed while the contents of the other have all been rendered unusable.

Headteacher Alison Bennett has launched a desperate appeal to the public, asking for help to replace the equipment as well as for any information to catch those behind the fire.

The school has only recently invested heavily in the two buildings and the equipment inside with the cost of the damage still being counted but expected to be well into the thousands.

“We are all absolutely devastated,” she told the Evening Post.

“We’ve got two outdoor storage buildings, one is a brick annexe. All our PE equipment for our sports curriculum and all of our nativity costumes and resources for the infant nativity were in the brick one and they are all ruined.

“We have a business that runs a breakfast and after-school club and their storage shed which has just been bought and built outside with all of their equipment has been burnt to the ground. That caters for about 30 children; there is absolutely nothing left for them.

“It just means they’ve lost everything, it’s only been up for three weeks to enable us to have the things children need to engage and support them. I don’t know what we’ll do.”

With the festive season just around the corner, it leaves staff very little time to replace all that was destroyed including trees, decorations and costumes.

“They broke the news to the devastated youngsters in whole school assembly as they arrived yesterday and Mrs Bennett revealed that many of the children found the news extremely difficult to take in.

“It’s about how we look after these children,” she added. “They are devastated, there is a real feeling of sadness in school, both with staff and children.”

It’s a family, everyone just pulls together and works together and gives 100 per cent. Our school motto is ‘our best always everywhere’ and everyone at school gives that.

“The fact that someone can just take it away through mindless actions is horrible.

“We’ve just bought a massive amount of PE equipment in the last 12 months in order to raise the profile to provide for both PE lessons and after-school sports and activities and everything has now gone.

“Even the actual nativity scene and everything that is used for the Christmas production for the children is gone. We don’t even have a Christmas tree or a single piece of decoration.”

Mrs Bennett says that parents and local childminders have already been in touch offering help by replacing equipment and is appealing for any help from anyone else. She added: “I would just say to people to let us know at school or contact police.

“We need everyone’s support and we need the community to help us, it is a really strong community here.

“It’s a really supportive one where people are very close and know each other very well. The fact that someone has done this within the community and has damaged property but also caused devastation to its families.

“We look after each other and support each other to make a difference to these children.”

Anyone who can help the school is asked to call 01942 882409 while anyone with information regarding the fire should ring police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.