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Byline: By Abby Alford South Wales Echo

Junior school pupils are digging their way to victory over thieves, thanks to the Echo.

When burglars stole virtually all of Brackla Junior's tools, Peter Jones, headteacher of the Bridgend school, feared it would spell the end for the 20-year-old gardening club.

But after being contacted by the Echo, Homebase volunteered to donate all the equipment pupils need to help them get back to nature.

'We would like to thank Homebase and the Echo because this has made a big difference to us,' said Mr Jones.

'Our club, Team Brackla Garden Gang, is great for the children because it can give them a life-long interest in gardening. It also gives them confidence.'

Thieves targeted the school one weekend before the summer holiday, smashing their way into the boiler room where the equipment was kept.

Mr Jones said he was astonished to find they used the children's wheelbarrow to cart away the tools, worth more than pounds 200, which had been bought with lottery funding.

'We spent years putting the gardening package together - making sure we had the proper kids'-sized tools,' he said.

'They even nicked 20 bean poles.' Club member Ben Davies, 10, who helps work on the garden both in and out of school hours, said: 'I felt sad when I heard the tools had been stolen because we were short of tools anyway.'

Homebase Bridgend's garden centre manager Niel Williams said: 'It's a sad reflection of society today that people can steal from a school.

'We are only too happy to donate the tools and encourage the children in horticulture.

'We will also be happy to provide them with anything else they need.'

Mr Jones said news of the burglary had also prompted an offer of help from tool manufacturers Fiskars, of Bridgend, and a widow from Porthcawl has donated the spades and forks belonging to her late husband.

'We can now get on with our current project, which is clearing the ground ready to grow peas, beans, potatoes and leeks as part of our study of the Dig For Victory campaign in World War II,' said Mr Jones.
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Copyright 2005 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Oct 6, 2005
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