Children at a community breakfast and after school club which lost its mini bus when arsonists struck have taken delivery of a new vehicle.
Vandals set light to the original vehicle used to ferry children to and from school by the Bridgemere Centre Breakfast and After School Club last year leaving staff and youngsters devastated.
They struck in the middle of the night in January and the vehicle was totally destroyed.
Since then parents and staff have been busy fund raising and this week the children took delivery of the new mini bus.
Karon Curryer, the manager of the club, which provides wrap around childcare for five to 11-year-olds, said, “In January 2012 we were devastated to find that our minibus had been destroyed by arsonists.
“The minibus is essential to the club as it is used to transport up to 40 children a day from local schools.
“In the following months a number of fundraising events took place including a sponsored walk and a collection at Tesco Extra in Lottbridge Drove.
“During this time we were indebted to Kings Church Eastbourne for the loan of their minibus until enough funds were raised to replace the destroyed vehicle.
“The Bridgemere Centre would like to take this opportunity to thank Eastbourne Police, Bridgemere Bowls Club, Pevensey and Westham Royal Mail Delivery Office, all the parents and staff for their help and patience and finally thank Mark and Helen Povey for all their assistance and support throughout the whole process and their invaluable help in finding a new minibus.”
At the time Mark said all the children were devastated by the arson attack and said, “We were shocked to see the burnt out minibus and it is upsetting.
“I was also shocked to hear of the loss not only to the club itself but to the young children, including my own, that rely on this essential service provided by the Bridgemere centre staff.
“This enables our children to get to and from schools within Eastbourne, and I felt the need to offer my support where possible.”
The bus was officially handed over to staff, children, parents and sponsors on Friday June 14.
At the presentation were Mark Povey of RC Butler, Gary Webb, the manager of the Royal Mail Westham Delivery Office, John Jackson from the Bridgemere Bowls Club and David Gamester of Kings Church in Eastbourne.
Karon said, “We are delighted to finally have our own mini bus and are just so grateful to everyone for their fundraising efforts and support over the last 18 months.”
The arsonists have never been traced.