Hard work of club goes up in flames

The aftermath of the fire at Lancaster Girls and Boys Club.
The aftermath of the fire at Lancaster Girls and Boys Club.

Heartless vandals destroyed part of a new outdoor play area and football pitch by starting a bonfire on private land on Bonfire Night.

The outdoor space at Mucky Pups nursery, which is part of Lancaster Girls and Boys Club in Dallas Road, was destroyed by a gang who climbed into the compound and built the fire from play equipment and fence panels.

One mum, whose daughter attends the nursery, said: “Whoever did this really made a mess. The nursery had only recently introduced a ‘mud kitchen’ with old kitchen equipment for the children to pretend to cook on.

“My daughter would 
talk about it every day. 
It was wonderful.” Lancaster Girls and Boys Club leader Steven Naylor said the incident has cost the club up to £1,000 in damage.

He said: “It appears that someone set up a bonfire and then used social media to let people know about it.

“They climbed over the fence to get in and then used nursery equipment to make the bonfire bigger.

“It was on the junior football pitch but also right next to a tree and building, which nearly caught alight.”

Fortunately, Steven was still in the building when he heard the commotion, at around 8.40pm on 
November 5.

He called the fire brigade and the vandals, thought to be aged between 18 and 25, ran off when he went to investigate.

He said: “It all happened in a matter of five minutes that they got the bonfire alight.

“There was about 20 or more people outside.”

The group had used fence panels, as well as play equipment, to fuel the bonfire.

The football pitch, which is used by Dallas Road Primary School, will also need re-laying. Steven estimates the damage will cost the club between £500 and £1,000.

He said: “If I hadn’t seen it, the firefighters said it would have set the tree alight and potentially the building.

“It could have been catastrophic for the club.

“Our money comes from grants and other users. We don’t have any surplus in our budget for things like this.”