Nursery gutted by blaze finds a temporary home

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An arson attack caused £150,000 worth of damage at a nursery last week, but staff managed to find a temporary new home within days!

The Westgate Nursery in Highworth was broken into via a conservatory window on Easter Monday when the blaze was set.

The fire service quickly established that the cause of the blaze was in fact arson and police are conducting inquiries.

Families and parents using the setting were left devastated by the news but after a frantic week, staff have now moved into a temporary home at Highworth Community Centre.

Sandria Mirkin has been running the business with members of her family for the past 25 years; her daughter Shelley now holds the position of  manager.

After the incident Sandria said:

“More than the damage done is the emotional loss,”

“The thought that somebody would deliberately set fire to a children’s nursery when they had no idea if anyone was in there is frightening.”

“You also have to think of the disruption to all these families. The mentality of anyone who would damage children’s lives is beyond my comprehension.”

Repairs to the nursery will be started soon and staff hope to return in the next 2 to 3  months. For now, they will remain in a spare room at the community centre and donations of toys and fittings will see them through.

“The last week has restored my faith in human nature and people have rallied behind us,” added Sandria.

“This week has been frantic and Shelley has had a lot of sleepless nights. We have been overwhelmed by the support from the staff and the parents who have pulled through for us. It just shows the affection everybody has for the place.”

One mother, Judith, spoke of the setting her daughter Cara attends:

“We were absolutely devastated by the news,”

“They have been fantastic to us and are a loving, caring family nursery. This is testament to what good people they are. We have tried other nurseries in the past but Cara has not been happy anywhere else.”

Alex Hemms, 34, had one child at the nursery, Toby:

“While the building is lovely, it is the people who make it,” she said. “I just think it is disgraceful how anyone could do this.”

“It is terrible and I can’t understand how someone would want to target a nursery. They don’t realise the damage they have caused. The way the staff have dealt with it is amazing.”

Keith Smith, trustee of Highworth Community Centre, said: “We can accommodate them until the repairs are completed.”

“We are delighted to be able to offer them the facilities and pride ourselves in supporting the community. We will do all in our power to make sure their stay here is a happy and successful one.”

A spokesman for Wiltshire Police said: “Police were called by the fire service at 2.32pm on April 6 2015, to a fire at a nursery school in Cricklade Road, Highworth.

“There were initial concerns that there may be people inside but this turned out not to be the case.

“Police attended to control traffic at the scene while the fire service dealt with the incident.

“It is believed the fire was started deliberately as a window had been forced open in the conservatory. Crime scene investigators attended the scene and enquiries are continuing.”

 

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