Vandals strike at new disabled play area in Stanford but doesn’t ruin community spirit

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Hardie ParkResidents and community stalwarts in Stanford-le-Hope were shocked at the weekend when vandals attacked a newly installed facility for disabled youngsters in the town’s Hardie Park.

Only last week there were celebrations when the new disabled access roundabout was officially opened, but within 24 hours it was subject to an arson attack.

Fortunately the damage was minor and residents quickly sprang into action to clean it up.

A support group for the park, Friends of Hardie Park, had raised funds for the fully-accessible roundabout with donations from local businesses and residents.

Among the first to try it out was Millie, pictured left, who attends Beacon Hill School and lives in Stanford. Mum, Gemma Crocombe, said: “To have park equipment that can be used by everyone, really is wonderful”.

Pupils from nearby St Joseph’s School were also delighted with the addition to the park and joined the Friends in thanking Nustar Terminals, Griffin Foundation Trust, Howgates Estates, Wharf Shipping, Delicious Webdesign, Thurrock Community Chest, 5 Star Cleaning, AJ Entertainers, Prop-Tech Insulation (UK) and The Rotary Club of Stanford-le-Hope and Corringham for their contributions.
However, smiles turned to frowns within a few hours when it was discovered vandals had tried to set the roundabout alight.

Local community champion, Rob Groves, who completed a marathon 10km swim at Impulse Leisure, Corringham to raise funds for the roundabout, was among those first on the scene and he expressed thanks to those who had already started the clean-up.

scorchHe said: “A massive thank you to Dean and Melissa for their super quick response and cleaning efforts. The roundabout is now as good as new and is further proof that the community of SS17 is alive and thriving.

“Good will always overcome evil, light will always make darkness flee and together we will make our community and towns the very best place to live.

“I for one am committed to Hardie Park long term, I will pick up litter, repair equipment, clean off graffiti and transform the place, for everyone’s benefit, for good. So to those who would seek to destroy what we have, there is no point because we will never give up.

Another local community stalwart, Shane Ralph, said: “It is very disappointing to see the roundabout vandalised. However, this is a strong community and we immediately set about cleaning it up.”

Shane also paid tribute to Rob’s fundraising efforts and his marathon swim in which he took just under three hours to complete 400 lengths of Corringham pool and raised over £1,200 in the process, saying: “This was a fantastic personal achievement for Rob who pushed himself all the way. “

For more information about Hardie Park and its friends, visit their website online at www. friendsofhardiepark. co. uk.

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