CHILDREN at a Newport primary school have been left devastated as vandals set their play boat on fire.

Headteacher at Malpas Court Primary School on Whittle Drive, Debra Guy, was made aware of the blaze when the caretaker opened up the school at 7am yesterday morning.

The fire destroyed the children’s play boat that had been donated to the school about a year ago.

Mrs Guy said: “It was just a mindless act and with the boat being just five meters from the school building, it could very easily have been a worse scene.”

The life size wooden boat, which was complete with a cabin and big enough for eight pupils to climb aboard, had been renovated and repainted to make it suitable for the children to play on.

The school had also purchased fancy dress outfits and toys along the sailing and pirate theme to aid the children’s imagination as they used the apparatus.

But on Sunday, at 7.30pm, fire crews were called to the school by a member of the public after seeing flames at the site.

Fire crews also contacted Gwent Police, who also attended the scene, as they believe that the fire was started deliberately.

Mrs Guy said: “The children, who are aged between four and seven years old, had no end of fun playing on the boat and after they were told of the fire they were very distraught.

“The children loved the boat and being able to get into different characters and they learn so much from it, so it is a great shame that they will no longer have it.”

She added that the event had put a dampener on everyone’s spirits as they prepare to break up for the summer holidays.

She is also concerned that further acts of vandalism may take place over the break.

Mrs Guy said that unfortunately she can’t see the boat being replaced as it was a donation and the school can’t afford to replace it.

She said: “We work very hard at the school to provide a stimulating and fun outside learning environment for children and I’m appalled that someone would do this.”

Gwent Police said that enquiries are still ongoing and if anyone has information they are asked to call Gwent Police on 101 quoting log 529 29/06/14