Community response “amazing” after vandals target Thaxted Rangers Football Club

PUBLISHED: 17:45 28 October 2020 | UPDATED: 19:00 28 October 2020

Photo: Konrad Wojnarowski.

Photo: Konrad Wojnarowski.

Konrad Wojnarowski

The leaders of Thaxted Rangers Football Club described the vandalism of their venue as a “devastating blow”, but praised the community, who raised nearly £4,000 in six days to help.

Photo: Lauren Barham.Photo: Lauren Barham.

Lauren Barham, vice chair of the club who lives in Thaxted, said vandals left a scene of destruction.

“They didn’t take anything, they just completely vandalised the place. They smashed up all of our internal doors. None of them were closed, so there was no reason to do this.

“They pulled all our fire extinguishers, our kitchen urn, the furniture had all been destroyed. They helped themselves to all the cleaning products -there were cleaning products all over our chairs and carpets.

“It was really frustrating, because we spent a lot of time in lockdown we decorated it. There is no rhyme or reason at all.”

Photo: Lauren Barham.Photo: Lauren Barham.

Lauren said that when she arrived, police were already there. She praised the “brilliant” police response, and the forensic team who lifted prints and DNA samples.

Lauren found out about the vandalism on Tuesday morning (October 20) but it may have happened around 8.30pm the night before, when resident Konrad Wojnarowski was walking past the club.

Konrad said he had heard voices but the lights were off, and thought it was kids training.

Photo: Lauren Barham.Photo: Lauren Barham.

“The evening before I was going to work and I heard some voices but the lights were off. I thought there were some kids doing some training, or a band who used to rehearse there.

“I carried on because I was running late, and in the morning I noticed that the door was kicked. I switched on the torch on my phone and saw inside and dialled 111.

“Everything was wrecked and then I realised that because of the restrictions people shouldn’t be gathering and there were no kids and everything was happening while I was passing by for work.”

Lauren praised the help from locals, including parish councillors and district councillors Mike Tayler and Martin Foley - and said there was also international support.

Thaxted district councillors Mike Tayler and Martin Foley offered their support to the football club. Photo: Michael Bailie Photography.Thaxted district councillors Mike Tayler and Martin Foley offered their support to the football club. Photo: Michael Bailie Photography.

Nearly £4,000 has been raised in six days, which will be used to install CCTV and take security measures.

She said: “A lot of it was a devastating blow, but we are grateful for the amazing response.

“We have had support from as far as New Zealand. We had local members and parents to help with the clean up. One of the parents is a builder and came to secure the building for us.”

Lauren said Covid has already made things difficult for local community clubs, particularly as they are run by volunteers.

Photo: Lauren Barham.Photo: Lauren Barham.

“We gave up a lot of time to build a community football club for our children.”

Martin Tritton has been involved with the club for 12 years, but over the last two years he has witnessed ‘real growth’ as chairman.

He said: “This was a bit of a setback but we managed to have a really negative situation and make it into something positive.

“It’s kind of shown us that people in the community recognise what we provide.

Photo: Lauren Barham.Photo: Lauren Barham.

“It was a horrible Tuesday morning, but by the evening, when we were exhausted, the amount of people coming forward, it was quite emotional.”

Martin Foley, Chair of Uttlesford District Council and Independent district councillor for Thaxted, has asked for money from UDC’s New Homes Bonus Grant.

He said: “We will always help with everything we can, but the real heroes are the hard-working chairman and vice chair and the teams of the football club, and even more so the residents’ immediate response to come and help.

“Thaxted residents offer really good community support, it’s making Mike and I proud to represent Thaxted. We had responses from people in and around Thaxted, all around Essex.”

Photo: Lauren Barham.Photo: Lauren Barham.

Mike Tayler, Independent district councillor for Thaxted, said: “The football club is a central part of support and recreation in Thaxted, and there is a huge amount of community involvement of all ages.

“We are heartbroken for the damage caused and the needless vandalism.”

Essex Police said no arrests have been made at this time, and this is an ongoing investigation. Witnesses can call 101 quoting 42/170715/20.

You can donate at https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-thaxted-rangers-fc

Photo: Lauren Barham.Photo: Lauren Barham.


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