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Cricket club ‘devastated’ as pavilion destroyed by fire

PUBLISHED: 07:58 04 October 2017 | UPDATED: 17:27 09 October 2017

Fire damage at Westleigh Cricket Club.

Fire damage at Westleigh Cricket Club.

Archant

Fire crews were called to Westleigh Cricket Club in the early hours of Wednesday morning

A cricket club in North Devon has been ‘completely destroyed’ by fire.

Fire crews from Bideford were called to Westleigh Cricket Club shortly after 3am this morning (Wednesday).

Officers in charge confirmed the club’s pavilion had been completely destroyed by the fire.

It is believed the blaze was started deliberately.

Fire damage at Westleigh Cricket Club. Fire damage at Westleigh Cricket Club.

Club chairman James Morris said the damage was ‘soul destroying’, but has pledged to rebuild the pavilion

“We won’t be beaten by this – not a chance,” he said.

“There is no electricity at the pavilion so unless it was a lightning strike we have been targeted again.

“Why people do this sort of thing, I have no idea. It is soul destroying.

Fire damage at Westleigh Cricket Club. Fire damage at Westleigh Cricket Club.

“The reaction from the local community in just a few hours since the fire has been amazing.

“The last time the pavilion burned down it cost £25,000 to rebuild it – never mind the hundreds of volunteer man-hours that went into it.

“Our insurance is in place and we will be talking to them.

A crowdfunding page has been set up to help the club rebuild.

Fire damage at Westleigh Cricket Club. Fire damage at Westleigh Cricket Club.

An open letter from the club said: “With all of the hard work that our amazing volunteers do, and the huge numbers of people within the local community who enjoy cricket at Westleigh, it’s completely beyond any of us why anyone would feel the need to do this.

“Junior and adult teams from Westleigh, North Devon, Buckland Brewer Real Tuff and The Reds play their home fixtures at the club, with many others visiting on tour or for regular league games.

“The club is in a remote, idyllic location and whoever has done this has clearly gone to the ground with the intent of starting this fire.

“Whether it ranges from breaking windows to arson, the damage that these mindless acts of vandalism cause are much greater than the physical damage, hurting anyone with a stake in making this great club what it is.”

Fire fighters damped down the scene using hose reel jets and police have been informed.

The village cricket club fell victim to vandals earlier this year, when almost every pane of glass in the pavilion was destroyed.

It’s also the second time the club has suffered from a suspected arson attack.

The village’s county councillor, Frank Biederman, said: “I’m devastated again that this has happened to such a lovely cricket club, that’s valued by so many that either play for the club or visit to play cricket at such a traditional English ground.

“From a personal point of view I want to do all I can to help the club get the pavilion rebuilt and ready for the start of next season.”

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