Staff devastated as wildlife visitor centre is vandalised just days after opening (From Thurrock Gazette)
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Staff devastated as wildlife visitor centre is vandalised just days after opening
1:29pm Monday 9th July 2012 in News
A MULTI-MILLION pound wildlife visitor centre has been vandalised just days after celebrating its opening.
Police are appealing for information after the Essex Wildlife Trust visitor centre, which sits in the Thurrock Thameside Nature Park, a wildlide haven offering panoramic views, had its windows smashed and timber fins damaged by yobs on Tuesday night.
A bird hide, which looks out to the Thames, also had its specialist glass windows smashed with benches and the vandals even tried to smash their way into the building, shattering a glass panel in the the front door.
That triggered an alarm, alerting sales manager Steve Breary, who was staying in a cottage on the outskirts of the park, to the commotion and caused the thugs to scarper.
Mr Beary and Renae Leybourne, the centre manager, were devastated when they saw the extent of the damage, which is going to cost thousands of pounds to fix.
Built on top of the old Mucking landfill site in Stanford-Le-Hope, members of the local community helped to raise £122,000 which allowed for £2.85million of funding for the site’s transformation.
On Sunday, hoards of local residents descended on the wildlife haven to support the opening of the centre, which is the wildlife trust’s biggest ever project.
Mr Beary said: “The local community have really supported us and made significant donations to make possible the build of this centre.
“But this has shown that there are sections of the community who don’t understand why we’re here.”
“Our teams are going to try and get out to the community and tell them why we’re here. I’m sure if people understand why we’re here, this sort of thing won’t happen.
“The most devastating thing was opening the bird hide and seeing what had happened in there.”
Security measures are now being put in place at the centre.
Mr Beary added: “We’re a charity and we would rather spend the money on educating people but now we’re going to have to spend that money on security.
“That’s not been budgeted for and will have an impact on what we want to do here.”
Despite the scene of destruction at the centre, staff worked hard to have the centre open at its normal time on Wednesday.
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