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Staff at a Fort William outdoor nursery say they have been overwhelmed by support from locals as police continue the hunt for the vandals who wrecked one of the centre’s outdoor classrooms.
Ahead of a workshop planned on Saturday, Stramash nursery workers and visitors were shocked to find their timber yurt classroom had been ransacked – the third act of vandalism at the nursery in the last two months.
The session was part of a programme of professional development for people working in the early years, primary and childcare sectors being held at its wooden ‘castle’ nursery close to Inverlochy Castle.
But when the 24 course attendees turned up on Saturday morning they found the place had been trashed during the night. Whoever broke in had also disgustingly defecated on the floor of the children’s play space.
Posting on the Stramash Facebook page, shocked organisers explained: ‘Unfortunately, we were greeted once again by signs of vandalism and were soon to discover our yurt castle had been broken into.
‘As you can see from the pictures, whoever was involved smashed glass, tore up the place and, devastatingly to us, defecated on the floor of the children’s space.
‘The local constabulary once again have been amazing in supporting us and they have asked us to post the details of what took place. The police have said the response from the past post was extremely helpful to them.’
Police in Fort William have been carrying out high visibility patrols to clampdown down on the anti-social behaviour, with a number of key locations being identified by officers around Fort William and Inverlochy.
Inspector Isla Campbell said: ‘We know our communities don’t want this type of activity on their streets and preventing anti-social behaviour is a key target for us. This kind of behaviour is highly disruptive for communities and can range from the annoying to the dangerous.’
Last month, signs in the nursery car park were damaged and equipment stolen, while three weeks ago an iron banister was forcibly removed from the side of the building.
Speaking to the Lochaber Times, Stramash team leader Cameron Sprague said if there was any positive to be taken from the incident, it was the massive show of support from the community with around 200 messages posted on the charity’s Facebook page over the weekend.
‘Unfortunately, it was also only a few weeks ago our wooden buildings were targeted by vandals so this was pretty devastating, but the worst thing was they had defecated in the children’s play spot.
‘However, the community response has been amazing and we got the worst of it cleaned up pretty quickly.’
One parent at the nursery has set up a Just Giving page to help raise funds for improvements and added security measures, raising almost £500 in three days.
Local building companies have offered to fit protective roofing, flood lighting and CCTV systems, and a fundraising night in aid of Stramash is being organised.
To donate to the fundraising campaign, visit justgiving.com