DCSIMG

Scouts soldier on after shocking vandalism

Beavers at Toddington Scouts HQ. Photo by Joanna Cross

Beavers at Toddington Scouts HQ. Photo by Joanna Cross

 

Yobs caused thousands of pounds worth of damage to the Toddington Scout hut over half term.

Graffiti of obscene language and drawings, smashed windows and smoke damage have almost destroyed the two buildings in Station Road.

Group Scout Leader Karen Calder said police told her they had not seen vandalism on this scale in a very long time.

Karen said: “Scouting in Toddington could stop because of this. The smaller hut is completely unusable. We are in a very precarious position.”

The group had been fundraising for a new hut but had recently decided to refurbish the current hut instead as they couldn’t afford an entire new one.

Now they face spending the hard-earned funds on demolition if surveyors deem the huts unsafe for use following the vandalism.

Karen said: “It’s almost cruel. You can’t imagine anyone would want to do this. We know it was young people and there is very little for the youth of Toddington to go and do but because of these people’s actions there could be even less. There are rude words we don’t want the children to see and they’ve lit a fire to keep themselves warm but they didn’t put it out when they left so there is smoke damage. They have destroyed it. I just can’t understand it, it’s heart-breaking.”

The vandalism took place over half term when the Scouts were not meeting and it was discovered on Thursday.

Bedfordshire Scouts spokesman Peter Sutherst said the vandals have left behind crucial DNA evidence which has been collected by scenes of crime officers and should help police track the offenders down quickly.

Scouting has been a big part of Toddington for many years and there are currently 140 members and volunteers who meet every night of the week.

Karen, who has volunteered for the Scouts for 18 years, said: “There is a nice history of people in Toddington who have spent a long time with our group. Scouting in Toddington is a big thing and I am a bit in shock that anyone would do this.”

Villagers have rallied round the Scouts and the group is appealing for any local businesses or fundraisers who can help.

Karen said: “We are not flood victims in Somerset or anything like that but we don’t want to have to put our fees up to pay for the damage as Scouting is meant to be inclusive and higher fees will make it inaccessible to some children.”

The volunteers put on a brave face for the Beavers meeting on Monday night.

Karen said: “Thankfully, the main hut was unaffected and we have installed temporary toilets to replace those in the damaged building. Also the wonderful people of the village are rallying round to help us and we are so grateful to them.

“There is a telling difference between our Scouts and the mindless vandals who left behind crucial DNA evidence. Our 120 Scouts will all earn an eye-catching entry for their employment CV as a result of the many challenging activities they enjoy. The vandals will have nothing. That is something for them and their families to ponder.”

PCSO Claire Young from Bedfordshire Police said: “The hut has been completely vandalised which has left the volunteers

who run the scout group absolutely devastated and the youngsters without a location to hold their meetings.

“I would encourage anyone with information about this incident to come forward and speak with us so that we can find those responsible.”

If you have information relating to this incident, contact PCSO Young, in confidence, on the non-emergency 101 number or text information to 07786 200011.

Alternatively contact independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

If you would like to make a donation to Toddington Scouts please visit http://www.toddingtonscoutgroup.org.uk/

@LutonNewsConnie

 

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