Beccles park volunteers vow to continue after bench fire
A team of volunteers who spent six weeks repairing and repainting a Beccles play park have vowed to continue their work after vandals set alight a park picnic bench.
Beccles Town Council Youth Champions Elfrede Brambley-Crawshaw and Sam Kenward joined forces with homeowners from the surrounding streets to breathe a new lease of life into Townlands Park in Mill Road.
However just a couple of weeks after the work was complete and a celebration picnic was held, a fire crew had to be called to the park to put out the blaze.
The incident happened at around 11pm on August 17, and a crew from Beccles station were called to reports of a picnic bench well alight.
And as well as decimating the bench and surrounding grass, the fire damaged the nearby trees and made that section of the park unsafe to use.
Mrs Brambley-Crawshaw said: “None of the equipment we re-painted and restored has been touched, but the bench was entirely destroyed making the park unsafe temporarily and quite a mess.
“This is particularly sad news for the great number of local volunteers who live in the surrounding area and worked so hard.
“However I don’t think that this overshadows the huge achievement of the community in the previous weeks. We are fighting hard for these spaces and unfortunately actions like this make it so much harder.”
Work has been carried out on and off at the park since Easter, with the finishing touches complete in time for the summer holidays.
And the Townlands Park community group has been formed to ensure the park continues to thrive, with Mandie Varley taking up the role of chairman.
She said: “It is really disappointing but we won’t let it deter us. We are still going to carry on.
“Our next project is the basketball court and we want the children to design and paint the wood around it as it is their space.”
A spokesman from Waveney District Council said: “The damaged bench was the property of the district council and it will therefore be replaced if required. With support from Waveney Norse, the local community has worked together to make real improvements to this play area and we hope they will not be deterred by this mindless vandalism.”