Reward offered to catch arsonists as offers of help flood in for arson-hit March Soccer School

Soccer shed fire at Westwood School March. Picture: Steve Williams.

Soccer shed fire at Westwood School March. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

A £200 reward has been offered today (Wednesday) to catch the arsonists who set fire to a shed destroying equipment belonging to March Soccer School on Monday night.

Soccer shed fire at Westwood School March. Picture: Steve Williams.

Soccer shed fire at Westwood School March. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

Local councillor David Connor and his son Andrew are putting up the reward after being shocked by the destruction and disruption caused by the blaze on the Westwood Junior School site.

Mr Connor’s six-year-old grandson Harvey Connor is an enthusiastic member of March Soccer School.

“The culprits are arsonists and need to be stopped. This could have had the potential to harm people and to cause even more damage. Fortunately no one was hurt this time, but they need to nipped in the bud before they go on and do something much worse. We don’t want another St Mary’s Church-type incident,” said Mr Connor, whose family is also making a £100 donation to help buy new equipment including goalposts.

Fellow councillor Jan French is also among dozens of people who have made cash donations to help replace the destroyed equipment.

Soccer shed fire at Westwood School March. Picture: Steve Williams.

Soccer shed fire at Westwood School March. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant


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Matt Christian, a manager with March Soccer School, has been overwhelmed by support coming in from all areas of the local community including offers of loan equipment from March Rugby Club and the Neale-Wade Academy.

Norwich City FC has pledged to donate some equipment and players at March Town have promised to donate their weekly wages. Other offers of help include Cavalry School running a fundraising cake stall on Friday and a bucket collection at Tesco.

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A metal storage unit has also been donated to be re-sited at the Westwood School.

“Hopefully the metal unit will be a bit more sturdy than the wooden shed we had. It is absolutely amazing how the whole town has rallied to help. There is a lot of teams in the town and there is obviously rivalry but since this happened everyone has been singing off the same hymn sheet and is offering support.

Soccer shed fire at Westwood School March. Picture: Steve Williams.

Soccer shed fire at Westwood School March. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

“People have even been giving me £5 donations at work to help, it is just overwhelming. We are grateful to David and Andrew Connor for offering the reward and hope it will encourage someone to do the right thing and report those responsible for the fire,” said Mr Christian, who said a plea on a Facebook page resulted in non-stop phone calls offering help.

Mr Christian, who lives opposite the school, said: “The shed had everything used by the footballers including kit, balls, line markers and goals they need for match days. But thanks to all the offers we now have what we need to be able to play our games this weekend.”

The soccer school has run at Westwood School since 1992 and has around 200 youngsters aged six to 15 who regularly turn up for training and matches.

School authorities said it was business as usual and no damage had been caused to the main Westwood building while a Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service spokesman confirmed it was an arson attack.

Soccer shed fire at Westwood School March. Picture: Steve Williams.

Soccer shed fire at Westwood School March. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

It took firefighters from March and Chatteris over an hour to deal with the blaze which was reported at around 6.35pm.

Anyone with information and would like to claim the reward should contact David Connor on 01354-651949, the Cambs Times on 01354-661955 or the police on 101 or the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800-555111

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