Vandals have trashed a Lepton pre-school just days before it re-opens after the school holidays.
Yobs broke into a summer house at the Rowley Lane Pre-School, behind Rowley Lane Junior and Infant School, and smashed up toys and equipment.
The charity-run group branded what happened as “mindless vandalism” and put the cost of the damage at more than £2,500.
The not-for-profit group was left reeling and is struggling to replace vital equipment for the start of the new school year on Tuesday.
Staff said nothing was stolen but toys and equipment had been ruined. Toy prams and bikes had been thrown about and damaged.
Dolls had been ripped apart and burned and the summer house was strewn with cigarette butts and been used it as a toilet.
The raiders scaled a 6ft fence and had also climbed onto the roof of the pre-school building, causing more damage.
Shocked staff discovered the damage on Thursday morning and believe it happened sometime over the previous week.
Neil Grimshaw, chairman of the charity trustees, said: “You could rationalise what happened to an extent if things had been stolen but this was just mindless vandalism.
“They have gained nothing by doing this and we now have to replace equipment before Tuesday.
“We are a parent-run group and everything we had was bought over two or three years. We don’t have the funds to just go out and replace what’s been lost.”
Mr Grimshaw said the summer house, used for play and for storage, was now unsafe and added: “It is full of cigarette ends, looks like it’s been used as a toilet and will be out of bounds now.
“We will have to replace it with a more secure shed.”
The pre-school, which has been going for 15 years, looks after around 20 youngsters every day.
The summer house was subject to a vandal attack in June 2010 when window boxes were ripped off.
Mr Grimshaw said the insurance didn’t cover outbuildings and urgent fundraising was needed.
The pre-school will open as planned on Tuesday and Mr Grimshaw appealed to the public to tell police if they knew who was responsible.
Security is to be stepped up and Mr Grimshaw added: “Before we couldn’t afford to invest in CCTV. Now we can’t afford not to.”
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