HEARTLESS thieves ransacked a school the night before its summer fair and stole prizes donated for the children.

The crooks broke into King’s Ford Infant School in Shrub End, Colchester, on Friday night to undertake their callous raid.

Headteacher Rachel Saunders said the school community was “deeply saddened” to find the premises had been targeted.

But she hailed an “overwhelming outpouring of support” from families who rallied to provide more donations to ensure the fair could continue.

Gazette: Grateful - King's Ford headteacher Rachel SaundersGrateful - King's Ford headteacher Rachel Saunders (Image: Newsquest)

She said: “We were deeply saddened to discover that the school premises had been breached which resulted in efforts to derail the hard work and efforts from the Friends of King's Ford Summer Fair.

“I would like to express my deepest gratitude for the incredible support and solidarity shown by our parents and wider community who were a source of unwavering support to ensure the day was able to be a success.

“The generous donations helped us recover the losses and this overwhelming outpouring of support and encouragement reinforced the sense of togetherness that defines our community.”

The event was hosted on Saturday for the first time to raise money for the school in Gloucester Avenue and its nursery provision.

Gazette: Targeted - King's Ford Infant School in Shrub End, ColchesterTargeted - King's Ford Infant School in Shrub End, Colchester (Image: Google)

Locally made cakes, crystals, and handmade crafts were available for guests to enjoy, including a raffle and tombola.

However, the crooks stole some of the raffle prizes and destroyed the others they didn’t want.

Shrub End councillor Lyn Barton said: “It is disgusting when people do that when there is so much hard work from the parents and staff.

“It is completely unacceptable to target an infant school for crime.”

Gazette: Praise - Shrub End councillor Lyn BartonPraise - Shrub End councillor Lyn Barton (Image: Newsquest)

Mrs Barton, who attended the fair alongside fellow ward councillor Mick Spindler, said she was heartened by the community’s reaction to the incident.

“It was an absolutely amazing response from the people of Shrub End. I just cannot believe how responsive they were to that situation.

“They always are so ready and willing to help others in any emergency which is a real credit to the people here.

“I would like to thank them for immediately rallying around and taking things straight to the school.”

Kim Ing, of the Friends of King's Ford, added: "It was really heartbreaking after months of work to find out our summer fair items had been targeted. 

"Rachel, our other committee member, and I do it purely for the children and we not only wanted to raise money but to do something different this year that could include our local community.

"We were really overwhelmed by the amount of support shown to us by parents and people we had never met before.  

"We want to especially thank Parents Dream, one of our stall holders, for all of their support on the day, Peter Dutch from the Anti Loo Roll Brigade for bringing us raffle prizes and to our Shrub End councillors Lyn and Mick for coming along with raffle prizes too."