Arsonists strike at pre-school yet again

nursery fires

nursery fires

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A CITY nursery school has been hit by arsonists not once but twice in the last five weeks.

Happylands Pre-School, based at Moorside Junior School on Harrogate Road, Ripon, has seen its garden and outdoor play area destroyed after thugs started fires on two separate occasions over the summer holidays.

Happylands staff Rosemary Burdass, Debbie Miller, Angela Thompson and Eleanor Holroyd with the children in their burnt-out garden (S)

Happylands staff Rosemary Burdass, Debbie Miller, Angela Thompson and Eleanor Holroyd with the children in their burnt-out garden (S)

The fires, on Thursday, August 4 and Friday, September 2 caused £2,500 of damage and destroyed the nursery’s garden shed as well as outdoor toys, a greenhouse bought with supermarket vouchers collected by the children and their families, and a wooden tower and play house.

Although nursery staff rushed to clear up the mess before the new term started they were faced with explaining to their pupils why the playarea had gone.

“WE told them some very naughty people had destroyed much of the outdoor play area,” nursery owner and manager Rosemary Burdass said.

“Their faces fell when we told them.

“We don’t use the word ‘naughty’ lightly and they were shocked because they know people shouldn’t do that.

“But we don’t want them to be upset so we’ve told them we’re going to get a new house to replace the wooden tower and play house,” she added.

“We’re a community non-profit organisation, and we don’t understand who could do this to us. When we buy anything it takes us a long time to raise the money and they’ve destroyed it just for devilment.”

Nursery nurse Eleanor Holroyd has worked at Happylands for 10 years.

She spoke of her shock at the attacks, saying her colleagues at the nursery are “devastated” at what has happened.

“Whoever has carried out these fires doesn’t seem to realise that it is the nursery children who suffer and are losing out.

“Can anyone tell me why this has to happen to them? What harm have they done to anyone?”

However, as word of the attacks has got round parents and former pupils have come forward with donations of money and equipment including a new wooden house.

Firefighters originally thought the first blaze began accidentally, but Mrs Burdass said when the garden went up in flames again only four weeks later the nursery staff knew it was “no accident”.

A fire brigade spokesman confirmed they were called to Happylands on Thursday, August 4 at around 8.45pm and again on Friday, September 2 at around 7.30pm. “On the second occasion they dealt with two separate fires in wheelie bins on opposite sides of the school property; both of which were definitely started deliberately,” he said.