West Lothian childcare charity left ‘devastated’ after vandals torch children’s minibus
A West Lothian charity providing vital childcare for youngsters has been left 'devastated' after vandals stole their minibus and set it on fire.
Childcare charity Simply Play now face a £10,000 bill to replace the vehicle.
The minibus was stolen from outside Simpsons Primary School in Bathgate on Friday (April 9), and the wreckage discovered between Harthill and Fauldhouse on Monday (April 12).
Sharing the news alongside a picture of the burnt-out minibus on Facebook, Simply Play wrote: ‘Words can’t describe how heartbroken we are.
‘This is what they’ve done to our children's minibus – totally stripped and burnt out it in the middle of nowhere’.
Simply Play have now set up a GoFundMe page in the hope of raising £10,000 for a new minibus.
Raymond Branton, CEO of Simply Play, told the Evening News: “It went missing from the car park of Simpsons Primary School in Bathgate, which is where we have one of our childcare sites.
“It was reported to the police and found totally burnt out and stripped of everything the next day.
“The engine was gone. The gearbox was gone. The roof was gone… it's totally heartbreaking and we are all devastated by what's happened.
“We use the bus to transport the children, taking them out on trips, and we simply can't operate without our vehicles.
“The last year, with the pandemic, has been tough enough as it is on childcare providers. As a local charity, this will cost us money we simply can’t afford.
“In the short-term, we've had to hire a minibus, which is costing us. We've started a GoFundMe page for donations.
“The support we've had from the local community and on social media has just been amazing.”
A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Police in West Lothian are investigating the theft of a vehicle from outside a school in Bathgate which was later found burnt out in Fauldhouse.
“The theft happened from outside the school on Leyland Road on Friday, 9 April, sometime after 5.30pm. The vehicle was then found burnt out on Monday evening, 12 April 2021, in Fauldhouse.
“Anyone who saw the vehicle between Friday, 9 April and Monday, 12 April, or has any information to assist police enquiries, should contact officers on 101 and quote incident number 1056 of 14 April.”