Cruel firebugs ruin woodland cabin at children's retreat in Wigan

The smouldering ruins of the reception and signing-in cabin
The smouldering ruins of the reception and signing-in cabin

Part of a children’s retreat set up by a pair of ex-servicemen has been destroyed by cruel vandals who set it on fire.

Tread UK Woodland Hide-out, nestling in woodlands at Park Brook Farm in Bryn, had its reception and signing-in cabin reduced to smouldering cinders by yobs, leaving bosses to fear that it will cost thousands of pounds to rebuild.

The facilities before the arsonists struck

The facilities before the arsonists struck

A charity campaign has now been launched to pay for the repairs.

The hide-out was established by Neil Powell and Gareth Williams, who are both former armed forces personnel, in 2016.

Their aim was to provide young people with fun, outdoor activities to build their confidence and skills.

But Neil and Gareth were dealt a blow on Monday September 2 when they discovered the wood cabin ablaze.

Gareth, from Ashton, said: “It was about 12pm, Neil was on the way to open up, and he saw the smoke.

“He went to investigate and found the remainders of our signing-in cabin.

“It’s literally been reduced to just a bit of ash and lots of rubbish now.

“We’re over £1,000 of equipment down too.

“There were first aid kits in there that have now gone; they’ve been burnt.

“That’s something that’s going to be a cost to us, plus the clean-up and rebuild of the cabin which is probably going to set us back another £1,000 as well.

“But we’re going to press through and open this weekend as usual.”

The 29-year-old added: “We’ve been broken into twice, but never had anything like this.

“A break-in is bad enough, but we’ve dealt with that and moved our equipment off site. So this really confuses me.

“I hope it’s just kids messing, and not something malicious and someone trying to stop our business.

“We’ve had about 6,000 kids come through here. They all go away with a bit of knowledge and a smile on their faces.

“We keep our costs down so all the community can come.”

In the wake of the fire, Neil’s sister Lyndsey has launched an online fund-raising campaign to help recoup the costs of rebuilding the destroyed facilities.

Donate and find out more here

Anyone with information about the arson attack is asked to contact the police on 101 or ring the freephone Crimestoppers line, anonymously, on 0800 555111.