School garden hit by vandals

A Lisburn school has been left to pick up the pieces after being targeted by vandals.

Damage has been caused to the sensory garden at Pond Park Primary School

The trespassers gained access to the school and allegedly ransacked the garden.

It is unclear when the attack took place and the PSNI said they had no record of such an attack.

A spokesperson for Pond Park Primary School said they had identified who had carried out the damage and would prefer to deal with the incident “privately”.

They declined to give any further comment.

Writing on their Facebook page, the school’s Eco Council said: “Much of our garden has been created and cared for by pupils, parents/carers and staff who have voluntarily and generously given their time, and efforts to make this space a safe and enjoyable space for our children to play and learn. It is not only disheartening that individuals would have such disregard for the environment and for this fabulous space, as to wreck and damage it in such a way as to ruin it for our pupils but we also do not have funds for repairs and to replace damaged features. The damage to the Willow tunnel cannot be repaired as we will have to wait for new growth to happen.

“Unfortunately it will be our pupils who suffer if they are unable to access and make the most of the garden for their outdoor learning.”

Lagan Valley ML Paul Givan, a member of the Pond Park Primary School Board of Governors, said: “It is very disappointing that a facility for school children has been damaged on a number of occasions and I would appeal to the local community to keep a neighbourly eye on the school.

“ We are very fortunate to have had a long and positive relationship in the locality and in no way is this act of vandalism representative of the positive relationships in the area.

“The school grounds is secured and to access the eco garden requires those involved climbing over a fence which puts themselves at risk.

“I am encouraged by the response from the community which has been hugely positive with offers of support and fundraising activities being organised to help restore this area which enriches the learning experience of the children.”

Meanwhile, Alderman Amanda Grehan said: “This is a project that the children have worked on for a long time and anti-social behaviour in the area is getting worse.

“We need to find a way of connecting with the people who are doing this. I know the headmaster there and he would have enough on his plate without something like this happening.

“This is an outdoor space for our young people and we need that more than ever now.

“The response from the community has been amazing, with people offering money to fix the garden.

“This will not deter the school and I am confident that they will rebuild it successfully again.”

Green Party Cllr Simon Lee said: “I was sickened to hear about the damage to the wildlife and sensory garden at Pond Park Primary.

“It’s hard to fathom why anyone would do this.

“This is such an important resource for the children at the school, and I have been hearing a lot from residents who want to help.

“It’s heartening that when a few individuals engage in this appalling destructive behaviour, others step up and offer support.”