Charity's devastation after arson attack

BOSSES at a charity providing valuable support to disabled children have told of their devastation after arsonists torched play equipment worth thousands of pounds.

BOSSES at a charity providing valuable support to disabled children have told of their devastation after arsonists torched play equipment worth thousands of pounds.

Police are investigating the fire which has cast a doubt over the future of the cash-strapped Windfall Support Group in Sudbury.

A young man seen fleeing the scene is being hunted in the wake of Thursday's blaze - the latest in a spate of arson attacks in the town.

Angela Cooley, chairman of the charity, which supports disabled children, said she was “devastated” by the fire.

“This is bound to result in our public liability insurance payments going up. We had our windows smashed by vandals several years ago and saw our premiums put up. We are really struggling to make payments as it is, so any rise will hit us hard.”

Firefighters were called to Hillside Special School in Hitchcock Place at about 5.25 pm on Thursday to find a side of a shed, belonging to the Windfall Support Group, ablaze.

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Mrs Cooley and several other helpers spent the following day picking through the scorched play mats, charred toys and fire-damaged bikes trying to find out which equipment, if any, could be saved.

She added: “There must be around £3,000 worth of damage. Much of this equipment was bought with a grant from Children in Need.”

The group, which has been running for 21 years, offers vital support to around 40 families with children suffering from a range of problems, such as autism and other disabilities.

Parent Janet Gower said: “Windfall puts people with similar problems in touch with each other. If we lose it, it will be really sad because often it's an important support network for people who often have few options.”

The man, seen running from the scene of the latest arson attack, is described as being white, in his mid teens with short brown hair, and wearing a purple shirt and jeans.

Anyone with information should contact DC John Gibbens at Sudbury CID on 01284 774100.

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