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Arson heartbreak; WALES 'Devastated' thatcher offers reward after Celtic hut gutted.

Byline: By DAVID POWELL

STAFF were 'heartbroken' after arsonists destroyed a mock Celtic Roundhouse used by schoolchildren to learn about Welsh heritage.

Police are hunting the fire bugs who struck on Saturday at about 8pm.Witnesses said the flames were 25ft high and it is now a charred shell.

The 'devastated' thatcher who spent four months making the hazel, pine and oak building has offered an undisclosed, substantial reward to anyone with information leading to a successful prosecution of the culprits.

Visits to the Celtic Roundhouse was run by the Groundwork Trust of Tanyfron, Wrexham.

Trust spokeswoman Van Griffiths said: "It's really sad. The staff are heartbroken.

"We only found out about it when we came into work. The police are pretty confident it's arsonists."

She added: "It's very much used by the local community, school children and volunteers."

Visitors often learned about Welsh heritage in nearby classrooms then enjoyed a trip to the Celtic Roundhouse.

It was opened by the Welsh Assembly's Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones AM last September 2. The Trust says 1,800 pupils from 50 schools visited it.

Witness Ian Walton owns the neighbouring Plas Power Climbing Adventure Centre.

He said: "The fire destroyed the roundhouse. This really must be heartbreaking for Groundwork, especially when you consider the amount of hard work which was put into the project.

"We were alerted to the incident by the police at around 9pm. The flames were huge, about 25ft high.

"Fortunately there was no wind about on the night, otherwise things could easily have been worse if the flames had spread. There is a large amount of woodland surrounding the site and there are also many homes close by."

North Wales Police and North Wales Fire and Rescue Service were called around 8.30pm. A Fire and Rescue Service spokeswoman said the blaze was started deliberately.

Thatcher Patrick Hemingway, of Rossett, who spent four months on the Roundhouse, said: "I'm devastated.

I'd like to offer a substantial reward for anyone who can come up with the names of the people who did this." (Ring the Groundwork Trust on 01978 757524).

Ring North Wales Police on 0845 6071001 (Welsh line) or 1002 (English line).

davidpowell@dailypost.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

The Celtic roundhouse as it was unveiled in September 2008 (left)... and reduced to ruin after arsonists struck on Saturday (right)
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 3, 2009
Words:393
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