Dedicated teenagers who created a community garden only for it to be vandalised just hours after its official opening, have restored it to its former glory.
The ‘forest school’ was created in a corner of Grantham’s Wyndham Park as part of a project by a group undertaking the National Citizen Service (NCS) scheme.
The 16- and 17-year-olds spent last week working hard to make it an interesting place for people to visit, complete with logs, flowers, new fencing and stepping stones.
Mayor of Grantham Councillor Mike Cook cut the ribbon at the official opening ceremony on Thursday – but overnight it became the target for mindless vandals who ripped out plants, smashed down fence posts, left litter strewn about and lit a bonfire in the centre.
A neighbour to Wyndham Park discovered the damage when he was walking through the park on Friday morning and reported it to the police.
A park warden was also at the scene. He said: “I knew what had happened as soon as I pulled into the park and saw some of the plants in the middle of the car park.
“It is despicable.”
NCS member Shelby Harrison, 16, joined other NCS members at the park on Friday to see the damage.
She said: “We are still in shock. It was barely open 12 hours before it was destroyed. Thursday was our last day on the NCS programme, so we are devastated that this has happened.”
However, determined not to let the vandals win – despite having completed the set hours required as part of the NCS project – the teens have spent this past week restoring the forest school. The group has now taken down and replaced the damaged fence, replanted the flowers and tidied up the site. They are working closely with South Kesteven District Council to improve security around the site, including installing security cameras, as a preventative measure.
Edward Johnston, a member of the NCS group, said: “As a group, we had already agreed to come back and maintain the forest school as volunteers after completing our 60 hours of social action.
“After the site was vandalised, we were even more determined that our hard work wouldn’t go to waste at the first hurdle, and it was a unanimous decision to go back and fix the damage.”
Lewis Cousin, 16, is one of those that have been helping with the repairs.
He said: “There was no way that after working for 60 plus hours on a project, that we were going to let one hurdle beat us.”
The leader of SKDC, Coun Matthew Lee, added: “I was extremely disappointed to hear of the vandalism that took place at the forest school. Having visited the site only hours before on August 17 to meet participants, I saw at first hand the skill and dedication they had given to this excellent project to benefit park users.
“The council’s grounds maintenance team and service providers Glendale joined NCS in leading the clear-up operations and are offering ongoing support for the garden’s upkeep. It is heartening to see it has now been restored to its intended use.”
Police are appealing for information to identify the vandals, having recorded the incident as criminal damage.
Information to police on the non-emergency 101 number.