EXCITEMENT has turned to anger as a polytunnel, that had previously instilled a love for the outdoors amongst pupils of Holy Family Primary School in Omagh, was heartlessly set alight at the weekend.
Police are appealing for witnesses and information in relation to a report of a fire at the Eco-Garden at the school on the Brookemount Road, Omagh on Sunday evening at around 7pm.
Both police and Fire Service personnel attended helped deal with the incident, but it was too late to save the polytunnel, which was destroyed together with a number of planks of timber.
Kathy McKnight, teacher and eco-coordinator at Holy Family PS, described the incident as a "mindless act of vandalism".
"We have been keen to further develop our school garden area so we were absolutely delighted to have a large polytunnel installed in our Senior Site.
"The children learn how plants grow, the importance of water and sunlight, nutrients for plants and how to use produce to cook simple dishes.
"Our excitement has now turned to anger and disappointment due to vandalism on our school grounds. On a previous occasion, vandals slashed the polythene cover of the polytunnel which we had to repair ourselves.
"But when we got news that our polytunnel had been set on fire, we were absolutely devastated. It's just so disheartening. This mindless act of vandalism has caused thousands of pounds worth of damage, destroying the polytunnel and all our equipment inside.
"Our whole school community is outraged by this totally unacceptable behaviour but we are determined and hopeful that we will rebuild the polytunnel. We will not let these vandals beat us!"
School principal, Maura Dolan, described the incident as "devastating."
"The staff and children are absolutely devastated by this mindless act of vandalism," she said. "School resources are so precious and this polytunnel provided wonderful outdoor learning experiences for our pupils. It is a huge loss to our school community."
Police are appealing to anyone that may have information on the incident, or anyone who witnessed suspicious activity, to contact them on 101, quoting reference number 1458 of 03/04/22.