Heartbreak as vandals torch nursery’s ‘wendy house’

The remains of the playhouse that was torched.
The remains of the playhouse that was torched.

A headteacher was ‘heartbroken’ after arsonists torched a wendy house used by nursery children.

Sally Henshall, headteacher at Grove Lea Primary School in Hemsworth, received a call on Sunday morning to telling her the building in the school’s yard had been burned to the ground.

The blaze also destroyed adjacent storage buildings and followed years of vandalism, including broken windows, by people trespassing on the school ground.

Mrs Henshall said: “On Sunday morning I got messages and phone calls saying there was a fire at the school and my heart just sank.

“When I saw the damaged I was heartbroken – I felt terrible for my staff and the children. They spend so much time and energy making it a nice setting and they put in a lot of head work.” But parents rallied round to set up a Justgiving page to raise money to replace the structure, which Mrs Henshall described as ‘a big wendyhouse’.

The fund, started by Jennifer Holloway-Williams, has raised nearly £700 so far.

Mrs Henshall said: “It’s such shame what happened but I’m just grateful no one was hurt and the best thing I can take from it all is what the parents have done.

“I am just really thankful and grateful for them to have done that for us.

“We will build something bigger and better – we won’t be beaten.”

She estimated the cost of the damage to the building and the equipment stored nearby was around £8,000 to £10,000.

She said the playhouse itself would be covered by insurance and she would meet with parents to decide what the money they raised should be spent on.

A spokeswoman for West Yorkshire Police said the incident was being investigated as vandalism, the suspects fled from the scene and enquiries were ongoing.

You can donate to the fund for the school as www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/jennifer-holloway-williams.