School’s vandal-hit garden restored thanks to ‘hero’ volunteers

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A team of kindhearted volunteers have returned a wildlife garden to its former glory in a clear-up mission following a vandal attack.

Staff and pupils at New Seaham Academy were devastated after the pond and surrounding area were damaged by intruders just days after the garden was opened.

David Mulvaney, Leon Bateman, Barry Wilson, Steven Simpson, Mark Kennedy and James Dixon.

David Mulvaney, Leon Bateman, Barry Wilson, Steven Simpson, Mark Kennedy and James Dixon.

Now it has been restored after a group of helpers took time out this morning to tidy it up.

The large wooden spools, which will be used by youngsters during their outdoor lessons, have been removed from the water and rolled back into place, with other items of outdoor furniture also put back in order.

The effort means the classes can resume and will also allow the Byron Terrace school to hold its Winter Wonderland events after cancelling the sessions in the aftermath of the incident, which happened overnight between Tuesday, November 14, and the following morning.

David Mulvaney, who is dad to Amy, six, Leon Bateman, who is dad to former pupils Josie, 18, and Nina, 15, Barry Wilson, whose son Jayden, eight, and Ava, five, goes to the school, Steven Simpson, who is dad of Eve, 11, and Matthew, seven, and Mark Kennedy, dad to Zara, eight, answered a call from James Dixon posted on Facebook.

I would like to say a huge thank you to these local heroes.

Bernadette Dolan

Principal Bernadette Dolan said: “I would like to say a huge thank you to these local heroes. It’s a really nice show of community spirit to get it put right.

“When it happened we were heartbroken.

“It wasn’t here for very long before it happened and we were inundated with offers of help, but these people gave up their weekend to do this. It restores your faith.

“When the children see it they will be thrilled.”

The pond after the clear up.

The pond after the clear up.

James has just become dad to Rosa, now 13 weeks, and was moved to help after hearing about the vandalism.

He said: “We’ve just had a newborn and I thought ‘what if this was her school?’ and wanted to do something.

“We’re a small town and we should be helping each other out and I’m happy other people volunteered and came along.”

Steven added: “When Eva came home, she told us what had happened and she was very disappointed.

.Assistant headteacher Steve Bilton and pupils following the attack.

.Assistant headteacher Steve Bilton and pupils following the attack.

“I was happy to come along and help.”

The school believes a group of around five boys, aged around 12 to 14, are behind a series of incidents of damage inside its grounds since the summer.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Durham Constabulary on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

The scene after vandals destroyed New Seaham Academy's new wildlife pond.

The scene after vandals destroyed New Seaham Academy's new wildlife pond.

New Seaham Academy students and staff were devastated after the incident.

New Seaham Academy students and staff were devastated after the incident.