‘Amazing community response’ after equipment stolen from St Albans forest school

The damage after vandals stole equipment from Watling View Forest School in St Albans. Picture: Watl

The damage after vandals stole equipment from Watling View Forest School in St Albans. Picture: Watling View School - Credit: Archant

A forest school for children with disabilities in St Albans raised more than £700 to replace equipment which was stolen and vandalised.

Watling View School, which caters for children aged two to 19 with learning difficulties, has a separate woodland forest school site where pupils go to spend time outdoors.

The forest school was broken into on Monday, January 13 by vandals who stole tools and equipment - including a garden trolley, hammocks, gardening tools, gardening gloves, toys and a rucksack containing a first aid kit and waterproof clothes. A Just Giving campaign was set up to raise £500 to replace the stolen items, but has already raised £767.

Margaret Stone, whose daughter Flow works at the forest school, said: "Many of the items taken were old and of little value to anyone other than the children and dedicated staff, who are upset by what has happened.

"A place where they enjoyed a secure space to explore and play is now going to need considerable work and time to restore, but getting the children to feel happy and at home without the familiar equipment will be much harder."

Among the missing items was a collection of tools Flow gathered herself, including a small axe belonging to her uncle who died two years ago.

Flow said: "Over the last few years we have built up a stock of tools, equipment and resources, which are familiar to the students and facilitate their learning and their ability to help with jobs which maintain the woodland.

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"Losing some of these completely and finding others broken or damaged has been upsetting for the students, some of whom find it difficult to understand why familiar resources are missing.

"However, we are so inspired and delighted by the response of the local community. An initial request on Facebook's St Albans Reuse Project group has had an amazing community response and we have received donations of tools, hammocks and equipment."

The forest school aims to provide hands-on learning about the woods and the plants and animals which live there. Any money left over will go towards the school's project to convert an internal courtyard into a sensory garden and play area for the pupils.

To donate go to https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/watlingview