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Vandals reduce Scout leader to tears

SCOUT leader Janice Acott has described how she cried with frustration after thieves once again targeted her group's hut.

Mrs Acott walked into the Blacklands Scout Group hut in East Malling on Tuesday night to open it for the Scout group and saw cupboards thrown open and the rear fire exit ajar.

The thieves had got away with a money box containing £130 - vital funds raised by a sponsored swim which would have gone towards the day to day running of the group.

It was the latest in a series of attacks by vandals which have almost destroyed the hut, at Mill Stream School in Mill Street forcing Mrs Acott to find the group a new home. She said: "I stood there on Tuesday night and cried."

Mrs Acott launched an appeal for help in the Kent Messenger newspaper in January after youths broke into the hut during Scout meetings to terrorise the children and vandalised the hut over a series of nights.

As a result, Horticultural Research International at East Malling has offered nine mobile buildings which could be moved to the school site to replace their run-down hut and sympathetic villagers and businesses had so far raised £1,200 for the group.

But after the latest break-in Mrs Acott said: "For a couple of months it has been going really well but when I walked in and saw what had happened I just thought 'what is the point?'

"The money they took was being raised to pay for the general running of the group, like paying the lease on the hut. I will probably have to pay for it myself now. But if we back down now then they win so we are not going to give up."

She added: "The hut is getting worse - the ceiling has collapsed in one place and you can see through to the rafters. We are hoping to get planning permission to move the new mobiles to the school in the autumn. I just hope we can keep going until then."

If you can help Blacklands Scout Group with donations call Janice Acott on 07812 909117.

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