Funds raised after animal attack

Pupils and teacher Maxine Pass at the empty animal enclosure at Northumberland Pupil Referral Unit.
Pupils and teacher Maxine Pass at the empty animal enclosure at Northumberland Pupil Referral Unit.

Outraged residents have rallied round to support a children’s learning centre after a sickening attack on its small animal farm.

Five tame ducks, a guinea pig and a goose were brutally killed at the Northumberland Pupil Referral Unit in Hepscott Park after an intruder entered their pen.

The unit provides learning placements for vulnerable children aged seven to 13, who care for the animals themselves.

The youngsters were heartbroken after hearing what had happened to their beloved pets, prompting members of the Morpeth Matters Facebook group to set up a fund-raising page to replace the animals.

After just two days they had smashed their £500 target. Now it has been raised to £750, and by yesterday £610 had been pledged in 55 donations.

Member David Towns said: “I posted the information about the attack and people said we should do something so we put our heads together and set up the fund-raising page.

The support, comments, feedback and subsequent fund-raising/donations have been truly overwhelming.

Tom Dexter, Headteacher, Northumberland Pupil Referral Unit

“The response has been brilliant. I think people were just outraged by what had happened. Some of these kids have already had a hard life and looking after the animals was part of their education.

“Morpeth Matters comes in for criticism as a place for people to moan, but this shows that when people come together they can achieve something good.”

The unit, which is in the process of installing CCTV in the animal enclosure, has welcomed the community’s support.

Office Manager Karen Hemsley said: “Our caretaker came in on the Saturday to feed the animals and saw they had been attacked. It was evident that they had been beaten, there was no evidence of an attack by other animals.

“The pupils were devastated. They fed the animals and looked after them, it was teaching them responsibility. Our farm is such a big part of the PRU.

“We are over the moon with the support from the community. We have had emails offering donations and a couple of farmers have offered some ducks. The money raised will also help us to fund the CCTV because it has to come out of the school’s budget.”

Headteacher Tom Dexter thanked members of Morpeth Matters for their help. In a post on the page, he said: “The support, comments, feedback and subsequent fund-raising/donations have been truly overwhelming.

“After the initial upset and trauma we were reluctant to re-stock and risk a recurrence. Money raised will enable us to improve security, re-stock and continue the work on animal welfare, husbandry and education aimed at preventing cruelty and ignorance.”

Police are investigating the attack, which happened between 5.30pm on Friday, May 8, and 8.30am the next day. Anyone with information should call 101, ext 69191, or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

To donate to the fund visit www.gofundme.com/q8eecaac