School targeted by thieves

Pupils Emily Gray, 12 and Adam Clarke, eight, with Andy Calvert of Tyson's and headteacher Keith Berry (right).
Pupils Emily Gray, 12 and Adam Clarke, eight, with Andy Calvert of Tyson's and headteacher Keith Berry (right).
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Disabled children have been left devastated after thieves targeted their new £250,000 theatre building – meaning it won’t open in time for Christmas.

Children at Park School on Whitegate Drive should have been putting on their festive show in the new facility this December.

Now, they face months of uncertainty after raiders made off with £2,000 of copper piping.

The thieves have now delayed the entire project.

Staff said they struck during the half term holidays, targeting the new heating system and putting the completion date for the building back to next year.

In a further cruel blow, eight bikes - two of which had been adapted to allow disabled children to enjoy them - were also stolen.

Today, headteacher Keith Berry said he was “disgusted” by the cruel thefts.

He added: “It’s awful to think people are capable of breaking into a school to take equipment from children.

“Our pupils love to perform and were very much looking forward to getting to work in the new studio.

“Now they will have to wait until after Christmas which is unfair.

“We have worked so hard to raise the cash for the build, it’s very upsetting for us all.

“Thefts from schools seem to be getting more and more common which is very sad.”

It is believed the school was targeted on the weekend of October 22 and 23, after it closed for the half term break. At this stage it is not clear whether the bikes and copper were stolen by the same people or in two separate thefts.

CCTV footage from the school has been collected and passed on to police.

Workmen on the development have estimated the missing copper will cost around £3,000 to replace and reinstall.

The bill to buy new bikes is also expected to run into hundreds.

It is the second time thieves have struck at the school in recent months.

In August, more than 18 metres of lead flashing was stolen from the school roof meaning another £500 bill.

Business manager Annie Millard added: “This is so heartbreaking because it impacts on everybody at the school.

“Some of the children don’t have bikes at home, especially those who need specially adapted bikes.

“They were great for helping the children relax and exercise and I don’t understand how someone can break in and just steal them.”

The cash for the two-room theatre centre had come from school funds, government and charity grants.

Park School was given specialist status as a performing arts college in September last year but cuts to Government funding meant they received no cash towards it.

The school was supposed to get £100,000 to make a new studio, but received just £20,000 instead.

Mrs Millard added: “We have scrimped and saved so hard for this building.

“It would have been perfect for Christmas shows and the children are upset they won’t be able to get in. We also have no art rooms at the moment because we are waiting for the new one to be finished in the studio.

“It was so near completion, this theft is a real blow to the school.”

Pupil Adam Clarke, eight, said: “I am very sorry to hear there was trouble at the school in the holidays.

“It is sad we won’t get into our new theatre in time for Christmas.”

Police confirmed the incident is currently under investigation.

Contact police on (01253) 293933 or Crimestoppers free on 0800 111555.