A kind-hearted community has provided a happy ending to a Halloween horror story by helping schoolchildren who had seen their prized pumpkins smashed up by vandals.
Children at South Hylton Academy were devastated when teachers told them mindless yobs had targeted their pumpkin patch during the half-term holidays.
Pupils in the school’s gardening club had spent months growing pumpkins in preparation for Halloween.
Now they are set to press on with their celebrations after ex-servicemen and nearby residents Darrin Carlisle, 50, and Chris Morritt, 35, led efforts to help the school.
They posted a message on the South Hylton in Pictures and Videos Facebook page asking for help and have since collected 15 pumpkins to gift the school, plus a donation of £130.
Darrin, who served as a private in the 2nd Battalion Light Infantry and now works as a music producer, raised the alarm with the school when he spotted the damage being caused in the garden last Wednesday.
Our children’s upset turned to relief and gratitude.Julie Cort
He said: “I’m disgusted with what happened and thought we should do something.
“But it was great to see all the children’s smiling faces when we took the pumpkins in.
“They had all worked hard in the garden all summer and I’d seen them growing the pumpkins over the last six months, only for these scumbags do ruin all their work.
“Hopefully it’s helped restore their faith in human nature.”
Headteacher Julie Cort added: “When our children returned from their holiday to be told that young people had again vandalised our premises, but this time attacked their allotments, they were devastated.
“Before our half-term holiday, several children had talked excitedly with me about the size of the pumpkins and how much they were looking forward to digging them up for Halloween.
“Our school’s Gardening Club had growth a great yield of pumpkins for the Halloween parties, and school activities.
“The pumpkins are hollowed out for lanterns, but the flesh is then used for baking.
“We then explained that Darrin had set up a Facebook page describing his disgust at seeing the debris of pumpkins and destroyed allotments, and asking if anyone would like to join him in donating money for the replacement of pumpkins. “He was determined that our pupils would have their pumpkins for Halloween.
“Our children’s upset turned to relief and gratitude.
“It has completely restored their faith in human kindness, especially after experiencing distress when both the minibuses and allotments vandalism in a matter of weeks.
“Although they have been made aware of the consequences and effects of anti-social behaviour, they have also shared in the delight of community spirit as it pulled together to help them.
“Several pupils informed me this morning they will be inviting Darrin and those who supported into school for a pumpkin feast, with the promise of pumpkin soup, homemade bread and pumpkin cake as a way of saying thank you.
“It’s a relief to know this story has a happy ending, due to the generosity of our community.
“After experiencing mindless vandalism in the summer when our minibuses were attacked by youths, we were incredibly disappointed to see this had happened.
“Our pupils work hard to keep their allotments and spend time during their lunch break and after school attending to the vegetable patches.
“It’s a shame incidents like this happen in the first place – but it is wonderful to know we have heroes living within our local community.”