Children given a helping hand after planting project was vandalised

Children from Mattishall Primary School, from left: Kaitlyn, Rebecca, Evie, Sam & Elliot, plant a wa

Children from Mattishall Primary School, from left: Kaitlyn, Rebecca, Evie, Sam & Elliot, plant a walnut tree at Abel Homes site in the village, helped by head teacher Tony Chapman (left) and Chris Abel from Abel Homes Picture: Andy Newman - Credit: Archant

Children at a village primary school were devastated when the trees they had planted in the back field of their school had been completely destroyed in an act of vandalism – but a Norfolk house builder has now stepped in to give a helping hand.

The director of Abel Homes, based in Watton, said the company was 'shocked' to hear that in the first week of February, 200 willow saplings planted by pupils at Mattishall Primary School, had been uprooted by vandals.

The protective membrane, along with the plastic and metal pegs that held it down, were also stolen.

The company, which is building 35 new family homes next door to the school, was so determined to help that they offered to pay for, and replace the destroyed trees.

They have also given children the chance to plant a walnut tree at their new housing development, which has been given the name Walnut Tree Fields.

Abel Homes director, Chris Abel, said: 'Like everyone, we were shocked and saddened at the mindless vandalism which saw all the hard work of the children undone.

'So we have offered to pay for replacing the trees and the membrane, and we will offer practical help to try and make the new planting more secure.'

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Mattishall Primary School head teacher Tony Chapman, said: 'The willow tree planting was a long time in the planning, and we were all shocked and upset by the act of sheer vandalism.

'However, the reaction from the local community has been heartening, and we are very grateful to Abel Homes for offering to pay for the damage and help us replant the willow grove.

'No doubt before long children living in the new homes that Abel are building in the village will be attending the school, and we look forward to giving them a warm welcome.'

The original planting project, which was put together to support the local wildlife, took many months to plan and after the vandals struck the damage was so extensive that there was no sign at all of the hard work the children had put in.

Norfolk Police said after the incident that they do not have any lines of enquiry and the area was not covered by CCTV.

The Walnut Tree Fields development is made up of 21 private and 14 affordable homes on the 4.4 acre site, which adjoins the school playing field. For more information visit their website.

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