Published: 12:11, 18 November 2019
| Updated: 12:46, 18 November 2019
The headteacher of a school forced to close and cancel its Children in Need fun after thieves broke in and stole thousands of pounds worth of equipment has thanked the community for their 'amazing' support.
Laptops, iPads and specialist kit used by hearing impaired children were taken from Castle Hill Primary Academy, in Sidney Street, Folkestone overnight Thursday.
The raid meant the school had to close on Friday after security alarms automatically shut down the heating and gas system, meaning the 400 plus pupils missed out taking part in fundraising activities for Children in Need.
This included a fancy dress day and bake sale.
As a result, head Pete Talbot and staff had to turn away excited, costume-clad children at the school gates.
He said: "Understandably we had a lot of upset children and angry parents."
And now Mr Talbot says he has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from members of the community following the break in.
"The response from the community has been amazing," he said. "I can't tell you how great people have been.
"I've had two people calling to offer money to replace the equipment. We had a total stranger walk in off the street and give us a cheque for £100.
"Someone else has set up a fundraising page online.
"And schools and colleges have offered to lend us their equipment.
"I can't get over how much support we've received."
Police have launched an investigation into the theft, which saw an estimated 20 iPads, costing £300 each, and 25 laptops, valued at £400 each, taken.
Several brand new Roger microphones which assist children with hearing impairments, valued at over £1,000 each, were also swiped.
The damage to the school was minimal, and Mr Talbot believes the building was targetted as the thieves 'knew where to go'.
The online crowd-funding page which has been established is raising money for a reward for "anyone who has information regarding the recent break in at Castle Hill Community School which results in a prosecution".
So far £90 has been raised of the £2,500 target.
The school re-opened today and Mr Talbot has promised to re-arrange Children in Need so that pupils will still have a chance to dress up and collect money for the charity.
Following news of the break in, frustrated residents hit out at the 'morons' who raided the school on social media.
Juliette Joyce Felton posted on the Folkestone residents group on Facebook: "Whoever broke into Castle Hill Primary you are what's wrong with society.
"Damaged heating and cooking facilities and all those small children looking forward to doing their bit for Children in Need to help kids not as lucky as themselves.
"This is something you disgusting morons would not understand.
"Hope you're proud of yourselves and managed to get everything you wanted."
A teacher also posted online: "Disgusted. Beyond words. How dare anyone break into my place of work and steal laptops, iPads and hearing devices from our deaf community.
"Not only that, this is Children in Need day. A charity day that cannot go ahead because we have had to shut the school.
"If anyone hears anything or has any information I would urge you to contact the police or the school straight away."
A police spokesman said: "Kent Police is investigating a report a school in Sidney Street, Folkestone, was burgled on the night of Thursday, November 14 and Friday, November 15.
"A quantity of electrical equipment is reported to have been stolen and enquiries to establish the full circumstances are ongoing."
Anyone with information is asked to call Kent Police on 01843 222289 quoting 46/219096/19.
Alternatively contact the independent charity Crimestoppers in Kent anonymously on 0800 555111.
More by this authorSam Williams