Woodfield Plantation – a community rocked by an unimaginable fatal shooting

Police at the scene of a shooting at the Maple Tree Pub in Balby. Picture: Chris Etchels
Police at the scene of a shooting at the Maple Tree Pub in Balby. Picture: Chris Etchels

The panic spread, as it does nowadays, within a series of frenzied posts on Facebook.

A shooting at the Maple Tree on Woodfield Plantation, late on a typically quiet Thursday evening.

It could easily have been dismissed as the product of Chinese whispers for which the social networking site is notorious.

But the harsh reality was quick to set in. What was being written on Facebook was devastatingly accurate.

No sense of gossipy excitement. Just fear and bewilderment.

Dozens flocked to see for themselves, ignoring pleas from their neighbours to stay inside and lock doors for the worry of a gunman on the loose.

What they witnessed was a horrific scene – bullet holes in windows, the frantic attempts of paramedics to save the life of a 21-year-old man.

It was an incident which claimed the life of promising young boxer Tom Bell and rocked a quiet community in the process.

There are estates where this sort of thing happens but Woodfield Plantation is not one of them.

A leafy, sprawling web of modern, well-kept cul-de-sacs, it was the start of the redevelopment of the south end of Balby. It is quiet – certainly after 8pm when the horrific incident occurred.

Though garden fences are as high as those of most housing developments of the last few decades, the estate has fostered a community feel which so many do not.

A lot of that is due to relationships built and forged in the community hubs, of which the recently opened primary school Carr Lodge Academy is one.

Another is certainly the Maple Tree – again, not the sort of place at all where this sort of thing happens.

Not a family pub in the traditional sense, ‘The Maple’, as it is known locally, nevertheless is a place that draws in families.

Sitting at the gateway to the estate as part of a shopping precinct which also houses a wine bar and a children's soft play centre, the pub is very popular for both eating and drinking.

Parties for children at Christmas and Halloween see the place packed out. During the summer the beer garden is full to bursting. On Thursday night, when the incident happened, a popular weekly quiz night was about to begin.

Rightly or wrongly, when the Maple Tree eventually does reopen, there will be initial hesitation among some about walking through its doors again.

Though nothing compared to the devastation caused to the family and friends of Tom Bell, that the shooting was allegedly a targeted attack offers little consolation to a community still in a state of shock of what happened on its doorstep.