'Unsettling and very upsetting' - Harrogate club repeatedly targeted by vandals

Members of a long-established dance and social club in Harrogate are fearing what they could find next at their beloved building, following a spate of mindless vandalism which has seen no less than 14 windows being smashed.

Paul Cairns at the rear of the building showing how many windows have been smashed. Picture: Gerard Binks.
Paul Cairns at the rear of the building showing how many windows have been smashed. Picture: Gerard Binks.

St George's Dance and Social Club, which sits on St George's Road, has been open for more than 40 years and has only ever experienced rare incidents of minor vandalism - until now.

In the space of just a month, the club has been targeted multiple times, leaving some of its 150 members feeling apprehensive to visit the place that they've treasured for so many years - a place that's brought them friendship, joy and laughter.

The chairman of the club, Paul Cairns. Picture: Gerard Binks.

The chairman of the club, Paul Cairns, said: "It is very upsetting - most of the club members are senior citizens, and have been going to the club for years and years.

"Members are still coming to support the club, but their faces drop when they see another boarded up window. They're apprehensive when they arrive, as they're wondering what they are going to find or see next.

"It's unsettling and very upsetting to see this mindless vandalism. We have a great fondness for the place, and hate to see this happening. We talked and said, 'should we abandon the club and just board up every window so that they can't break it?' But we decided we have to keep it going - it's a phenomenal community resource.

The interior of the St George's Club. Picture: Gerard Binks.

"There are not a lot of places you can dance in Harrogate, and if we were ever to close this facility, 150 members who are generally older people, would lose a hobby of dance.

"Some people just go there to chat, and hardly ever get on their feet to dance - and some people go there to dance all afternoon and all night."

In response to the vandalism, eight CCTV cameras are being installed on site. Mr Cairns said it's important to protect and secure the building not just for the regulars who come to dance, but for all of the other groups who make use of it.

Another interior shot the dance and social club. Picture: Gerard Binks.

The club is used for events and functions like children's parties, and groups including a branch of the Women's Institute meet there.

A spokeswoman for North Yorkshire Police said: "This is a mindless and senseless act of vandalism that is distressing for the community, and a complete waste of time and money for those that are left to clean up the mess.

“We would urge anyone who has any information on those responsible to contact North Yorkshire Police with information on 101."

Information can also be passed on anonymously through Crimestoppers, on 0800 555 111, quoting reference number 12190065767 when providing information.