More than £4,000 has been raised towards replacing the primary school minibus that was stolen, set on fire and then abandoned in a car park six miles away.

The fundraiser, set up by a parent at the primary school, reached £2,500 within 24 hours and its target within two days.

Last week, a torched minibus belonging to Morgan's Vale and Woodfalls Primary School was found in a car park several miles away from the school.

Redlynch resident Hattie Arnold, who has a six-year-old at the school, set up the fundraiser.

The 39-year-old mother of two says that the response has shown how positivity can overcome such a "low act".

Speaking to the Journal, she said: "All the parents felt so disappointed about what had happened and I wanted to try and do something to help. I spoke to the head and made the suggestion and he thought it was worth giving it a go, and I am blown away by the response.

"We were halfway there within 24 hours, which is brilliant. I just think the community has really pulled together.

"It is a pretty low act, especially as it is something that everyone in the community benefits from and it is children, and it has upset people and they are shocked, all for the sake of an engine.

"The minibus was wonderful for the school and other comunity groups - it gets the children out and about as much as possible and it is so beneficial to their learning.

"I am just really blown away by the response, and it helps to restore faith in humanity and boost morale after the incident. It shows that positivity can help overcome such an event, and we can give something back to such a great school."

Wiltshire Police located the minibus at Shepherd’s Gutter car park near Bramshaw on Tuesday (February 1).

The engine of the Ford Transit had been removed and the vehicle had been set on fire.

The thief or thieves had taken the bus from the school, presumably drove it for several miles, and removed the engine, before setting it on fire to destroy any evidence.

The minibus was hoisted onto some small tree stumps before being left in the car park.

Read more: Stolen school minibus torched at Shepherds Gutter car park

The fundraiser aims aims to reach £4,000 for a new minibus, as the headteacher anticipated a financial gap of a few thousand pounds between what will be received from the insurance company and the cost of replacing the minibus with a similar vehicle.

The school had only fundraised to buy the minibus last year, after parents had set up a GoFundMe page.

The minibus had also been hired out to other local schools and community groups with a charitable status, including Beavers, Scouts and Brownies groups in the area.

A spokesperson from the school said: "The response has been overwhelming. A parent asked if they could set up the page and donations have been flooding in, and we have been blown away by it. It is really really lovely."

Headteacher Graham Nagel-Smith added that it is "really lovely that a positive has come out of a negative" and that the comunity has been really supportive with many messages offering their help.

A Wiltshire Police spokesman said: “We have received a report regarding the theft of a Ford Transit minibus from Morgans Vale and Woodfalls Primary School during the evening of January 31 or the early hours of February 1.

“The vehicle was located at 9.15am on February 1 in Shepards Gutter Forestry Commission car park off Furzley Lane near Bramshaw, where it had been stripped for parts and burnt out.

“Anyone with information should call 101 and quote crime reference number 54220011121.”

To donate to the cause, visit the fundraiser by clicking here.

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