THE founder of Boston Manor Park friends’ group has praised the community spirit after everyone rallied round to help following a break-in and fire at its base over the weekend.
Linda Massey knew something was wrong when she arrived at the Pavilion Cafe inside the park off Boston Manor Road, Brentford, at 7.15am on Saturday (September 7) to find the fire brigade on site.
She was told the building had been broken into by thieves sometime between 2am and 5am who later went on to start a blaze in the gents’ toilet block. If it had not been for the swift arrival at 5.15am of a team of firefighters from as far afield as Feltham, the entire single-storey building could have been gutted.
Mrs Massey, who last weekend oversaw the hugely successful relaunch of Brentford Festival at its new home in nearby Blondin Park, Ealing, revealed the extent of the damage and loss when the Chronicle spoke to her today (Monday).
She said: "The fire brigade told me they thought the thieves got in through a hole which they made on the roof, but the police later suggested the heavy steel door we have over the entrance was jemmied. I’m afraid they stole the takings from the till, about £170, which on a normal night wouldn’t have been there, but I hadn’t been able to cash up properly so I’m afraid I left the money in the till.
"They also stole our charity donation tin, mobile phones and other items from our lost property box and bottles of alcohol left over from the Festival last weekend. They moved CCTV cameras so they couldn’t record anything, smashed the security lights outside, and bizarrely our box out front which dispenses bags for dog waste is missing too."
It was only when more friends arrived to help start cleaning up, that one noticed a bike belonging to Mrs Massey’s 10-year-old granddaughter Janelle had been stolen as well.
As the clean up progressed, contractors from Hounslow’s park management firm John Laing were able to make the building’s electrics safe and the Friends were able to go on and hold three parties which were scheduled for Saturday.
The Spartan Football matches which take place on Sundays in the park’s playing fields were also unaffected.
Mrs Massey said the incident was the first she’d known in 10 years of being at the Pavilion and thanked everyone for rallying round to sort the situation so quickly.
She added: "It’s a horrible thing that happened, but we can’t let people ruin things for others."