Teachers and pupils 'heartbroken' after school minibuses found burnt out in Hampshire village

  • ITV Meridian's Natalie Verney reports from Bramley in Hampshire.

Two school minibuses, stolen from separate primary schools in Hampshire over the Easter weekend, have been found burnt out in a nearby village, leaving children and their parents devastated.

Police discovered the vehicles dumped in a field in Bramley near Basingstoke.

It means hundreds of children will miss out on swimming classes, field trips and sports fixtures until they can be replaced.

In the first incident, a minibus was stolen from Whitewater CE Primary School in Hook between 9am on Sunday, 31 March, and 2pm on Monday 1 April.

The minibuses were discovered completely gutted inside. Credit: ITV Meridian

Head of School Michelle Elie said she was first alerted that something was wrong by another staff member who noticed the school gates wide open.

"She then checked and realised that the bolts had been cut," Michelle said.

"So I came over to see what had happened, and noticed that the minibus had gone missing.

"We searched the whole school site just to make sure that other things hadn't been taken. I let the executive head of school know that the minibus was missing and reported it to the police."

The stolen minibus was purchased around 18 months ago and was funded by pupils' families and the school community.

It's used frequently for school trips and visits for pupils, but it was also filled with donations for the local food bank.

  • Head of School Michelle Elie

"It was invaluable," Michelle added.

"There are school trips booked in for the summer term but we will do everything we can so that they still take place.

"Our parents have been devastated. There have been lots of messages and support from the community which we very much appreciate.

"We know that our children will be upset but we wanted to send a message to them to say not to worry, we'll sort it out for them as quickly as we can.

"They won't miss out on anything."

Hampshire Police have taped off the area around the minibuses while investigations continue. Credit: ITV Meridian

In a separate incident, a minibus was taken from the grounds of Great Binfields Primary School in Chineham sometime between 6pm on Sunday 31 March, and midday on Monday 1 April.

Staff became aware that something was wrong on Easter Monday when they found the gates of the school car park had been left open, and discovered the minibus had gone.

Assistant Headteacher Michelle Holdsworth said they were devastated for the children.

"It's not the news that we wanted to start a new term with," Michelle said.

"It's going to have a big impact on all of them.

"It's going to mean that we have to pull out of lots of events that they've been really excited about, that have always been part of our curriculum offering, which is something that we're not going to be able to do unfortunately until we're able to source a new one and fund a new one."

  • Assistant Headteacher Michelle Holdsworth

The school say they are currently assessing quotes for a new minibus to see how quickly it can be replaced

"I know lots of our parents and local community said it was really quite heartbreaking to see that it had just been abandoned and dumped, just used for parts.

"Then obviously to see it kind of in a burnt out shell, it was really upsetting."

In a statement a spokesperson for Hampshire Police said: "A minibus was reported stolen from the grounds of Whitewater CE Primary School some time between 9am on 31 March and 2pm on 1 April.

"Enquiries remain ongoing.

"Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101, quoting 44240137104."

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