Pre-school near Doncaster hit by arson attack reopens after community campaign

Fire damage at the pre-school.
Fire damage at the pre-school.
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A vital pre-school which went up in flames in a savage arson attack has risen from the ashes and reopened thanks to a community campaign.

Epworth Thurlow Pre-School was forced to temporarily close its doors after arsonists set it alight in February.

Children at Epworth Thurlow Pre-School.

Children at Epworth Thurlow Pre-School.

But the community rallied round the vital facility and raised around £20, 000 for a complete refurbishment, along with donating new toys and play equipment.

The School Road facility has now reopened and Isle youngsters can now once again enjoy play days.

Father-of-two Jim Cook, chair of the pre-school committee, said: "What a fantastic community we have.

"We were devastated by the fire but everyone has rallied round and thanks to the generosity of members of the public and businesses we have been able to open our doors again.

Fire damage at the pre-school in Epworth.

Fire damage at the pre-school in Epworth.

"We are back in business. Thank you everyone."

The arson attack, which happened between 7.30pm and 9.30pm on Thursday, February 2, left the kitchen fire damaged and most of the rest of the property smoke logged.

Many soot-covered toys and play equipment had to be thrown out, while much of the kitchen equipment also had to be replaced.

The doors were closed and the play group had to temporarily relocate to the Imperial Hall in Epworth.

Fire damage in the kitchen of the pre-school in Epworth.

Fire damage in the kitchen of the pre-school in Epworth.

Meanwhile, word spread in the community about the fire and people started organising fundraisers such as raffles and cake sales in a bid to help the facility to reopen. A number of donations from the public and businesses were also made.

After around £20, 000 was raised, the pre-school underwent a full refurbishment including new kitchen units, toys and play equipment, along with freshly painted walls and carpets.

The pre-school reopened in May and to mark the occasion, the facility opened its doors and invited all of those who contributed to its relaunch to a party held on Thursday, June 8.

Mr Cook, aged 70, a retired headteacher who lives in Epworth, said: "The pre-school looks amazing inside now. We have written letters of thanks to everyone who contributed but we also wanted to invite them in to see how great the place looks.

"It was a fantastic day and all the parents and kids love the new facility."

The play school has been operating from the same location for at least 20 years. It hosts regular play groups, parent and toddler sessions and activity days.

Police are still hunting the arsonists. Anyone with information is urged to call 101, quoting incident number 645 of 02/02/17. Alternatively, ring Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.