Youngsters devastated after vandals trash Eastbourne Playgroup's newly-opened garden in Darlington

Youngsters devastated after vandals trash newly-opened playgroup garden

Youngsters have a sing-a-long with playgroup manager Gail Wilkinson before the vandals struck

Vandals have trashed the youngsters' wooden seesaw

Colourful bunting was ripped down during the incident

First published in News The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter (Darlington)

YOUNGSTERS and staff at a long-established playgroup have been left devastated after vandals trashed their newly-opened garden.

Stunned staff arrived at Eastbourne Playgroup, Darlington, to find the children’s much-loved seesaws broken beyond repair and newly-installed solar lights ripped out, smashed and scattered around the play area.

Tree decorations created by the children were also ruined, and colourful bunting tied to the eight-metre high security fence was also ripped down, as well as a number of educational posters.

The playgroup, which has been running for more than 20 years, moved into its new home at Eastbourne Sports Complex, in Bourne Avenue, earlier this year.

It is the first time the group has had a garden and staff had spent months transforming the overgrown site into an area suitable for the children.

Playgroup manager Gail Wilkinson, who has worked at the group for more than ten years, said she had never seen anything like it.

“I couldn’t believe it when I saw it, I just thought why? It is not just our staff who are angry about it, the rest of the complex were appalled,” she said.

The Northern Echo attended the playgroup on Friday (March 14) to help celebrate the group’s move, but the vandals struck just hours after.

Mrs Wilkinson said: “Because this was our first garden we spent a lot of time doing it up and making it nice for the children.

“The children absolutely love going outside, even if it is raining. But when they saw it today they were lost, like it was a different place.

“One little girl likes to turn the big wooden seesaw over and stand on it and tell everyone she is the king of the castle.

“Today she went to the normal place, but when she saw it was gone she seemed lost and was really upset. She came back inside early and just sat on someone’s knee instead.

“The children are going to find it strange as they are used to playing on toys that are familiar to them because it reassures them, but now they are gone.”

It is thought the vandals struck overnight on Sunday (March 16), and Durham Police are appealing for any witnesses to call 101.

Comments (6)

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12:13pm Tue 18 Mar 14

Ally F says...

8m high security fence, that's over 26ft. 8ft surely?
8m high security fence, that's over 26ft. 8ft surely? Ally F
  • Score: -1

1:22pm Tue 18 Mar 14

pixie4612 says...

I really feel for this playgroup, what a lot of hard work down the drain. Young children thrive in the outdoor environment and the children were obviously already enjoying the benefits of having an outdoor space. I hope these people get turned in and can be shown the effects of their mindlessness.
I really feel for this playgroup, what a lot of hard work down the drain. Young children thrive in the outdoor environment and the children were obviously already enjoying the benefits of having an outdoor space. I hope these people get turned in and can be shown the effects of their mindlessness. pixie4612
  • Score: 15

1:24pm Tue 18 Mar 14

Eastbourne Playgroup says...

The fence in the photograph is one of the internal fences & is only around 8ft the external fences and gates are much higher security fences, anyone familiar with the area will be aware how high the fences are.
We would like to thank the echo for publishing this for us, if anyone has any information please get in touch with us or the police, thank you.
The fence in the photograph is one of the internal fences & is only around 8ft the external fences and gates are much higher security fences, anyone familiar with the area will be aware how high the fences are. We would like to thank the echo for publishing this for us, if anyone has any information please get in touch with us or the police, thank you. Eastbourne Playgroup
  • Score: 16

2:39pm Tue 18 Mar 14

st-george1 says...

This is modern Britain I’m afraid, where rudeness, abuse, violence and anti-social behaviour comes as standard and consideration and respect for others is a luxury … it’s all such a disppointing mess, but at-risk lessons need to be learned now about taking full responsibility for one’s own security … seems as though there is a breeding ground for some untouchable youngsters NEAR BY, who are hell bent on such unacceptable behaviour, the career-criminals of the next decade doing as they wish knowing that justice is unlikely to be served BY their mummies and daddies or law enforcement … it really is shameful., so good luck for the future.
This is modern Britain I’m afraid, where rudeness, abuse, violence and anti-social behaviour comes as standard and consideration and respect for others is a luxury … it’s all such a disppointing mess, but at-risk lessons need to be learned now about taking full responsibility for one’s own security … seems as though there is a breeding ground for some untouchable youngsters NEAR BY, who are hell bent on such unacceptable behaviour, the career-criminals of the next decade doing as they wish knowing that justice is unlikely to be served BY their mummies and daddies or law enforcement … it really is shameful., so good luck for the future. st-george1
  • Score: 12

6:10pm Tue 18 Mar 14

pensioner2 says...

Well even if caught some limp wristed magistrate will only slap their wrists. The should be made to replace and repair all the damage at their own expense, taken out of their wages (if applicable, but more probably unlikely waste of space yobs on benefits) or if they have no income make their parents pay as was once proposed by a government but never seems to be implemented, at least the parents might take tighter control of what their little darlings are getting up to when not at home bothering mum and dad- which ever of the preceeding applies!. Its a pity there wasn't some covert cctv to film them so they could be named and shamed.
Well even if caught some limp wristed magistrate will only slap their wrists. The should be made to replace and repair all the damage at their own expense, taken out of their wages (if applicable, but more probably unlikely waste of space yobs on benefits) or if they have no income make their parents pay as was once proposed by a government but never seems to be implemented, at least the parents might take tighter control of what their little darlings are getting up to when not at home bothering mum and dad- which ever of the preceeding applies!. Its a pity there wasn't some covert cctv to film them so they could be named and shamed. pensioner2
  • Score: 5

11:25pm Tue 18 Mar 14

punkrocker says...

this is the result of ever softening on crime. well if any of the scum who did this are smack heads on heroin maybe our chief constable can pop round and give them their free drugs.
this is the result of ever softening on crime. well if any of the scum who did this are smack heads on heroin maybe our chief constable can pop round and give them their free drugs. punkrocker
  • Score: 2

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