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Play area donated to Scots charity as part of DIY SOS TV makeover torched by sick vandals

Play equipment donated to a Scottish charity for disabled children as part of a star-studded DIY SOS makeover has been closed off after it was torched by sick vandals.

The Yard says up to £40,000 of fire damage has been caused to the equipment at its Edinburgh base, including a wooden boardwalk rejuvenated by Nick Knowles and his crew in a 2012 Children In Need special.

Some of the apparatus has been so heavily damaged that will be closed off for months, potentially into next spring, in order to be repaired, to the detriment of disabled kids and their families

Earlier this week, the Record reported that the non-profit has been celebrating its 35th anniversary of providing play for children from all walks of life, with Knowles among those sending congratulations.



Charity bosses say some play areas will be fenced off until next Spring
Charity bosses say some play areas will be fenced off until next Spring

In a post on fundraising website JustGiving, the charity said the vandals struck on the morning of Tuesday December 7, setting fire to the wooden boardwalk.

However, the blaze spread to other equipment and damaged the grounds, outdoor electrical systems and the Yard’s “Solar Dome” – a giant glasshouse that was donated as part of the Children In Need makeover effort.

Charity bosses have been particularly upset by the vandalism because it took place months after the charity re-opened for the first time since coronavirus struck, and in the run up to Christmas.

Celine Sinclair, CEO of The Yard, said: “While we were celebrating our 35 years and planning our Christmas celebrations, we didn’t know we had yet another challenge coming our way this year.

“We are absolutely devastated at this malicious attack and currently doing our best to have the affected areas repaired, which will be a costly process.”

While the damage was contained and no-one was injured, Celine says some of its services will be out of commission until the team is able to replace the scorched equipment.

She added: “Luckily, no-one was harmed and damage was contained but the impact on our users, the children and families we support, is significant and will affect the experience and quality of play which we offer for several months to come.

“Most of the families we support have no other options when it comes to play and rely on our facilities to relax, unwind and be themselves.



Nick Knowles and The Yard boss Celine Sinclair
Nick Knowles and The Yard boss Celine Sinclair

“It’s ironic and deeply saddening that this attack came as we celebrated our 35th anniversary and were preparing for our Christmas walk-throughs in the garden.

“The last two years have highlighted our resilience as a charity so, despite this heart-breaking news, we are confident that we’ll come out the other side stronger, as we always have.”

While the Yard has comprehensive business insurance, the charity has launched the JustGiving fundraiser to cover all the associated costs with repairing and replacing damaged facilities.

Any money left over from the drive will be used to improve the other play facilities while the damaged equipment is out of commission.



The Yard supports children with additional support needs and their families
The Yard supports children with additional support needs and their families

The fundraiser can be found at justgiving.com/campaign/vandalism-at-the-yard.

Locals have reacted with outrage to the vandalism.

One wrote on the Yard’s Facebook page: “So sad to read this post. Needless vandalism that causes disappointment for your families and gives you another challenge you don’t need. Happy to donate – good luck.”

Another added: “So upsetting to read this. This is our first year attending with our son. Donation made and post shared. Hopefully you raise what you need to repair the damage.”

The Scottish Fire and Rescue service confirmed it attended at the charity’s headquarters, in the capital’s Eyre Place Laneto extinguish a fire started on the boardwalk at the charity on Eyre Place Plane in the capital.

Police Scotland was contacted for comment.

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