Sheffield youngster left heartbroken after vandals destroy his woodland den built during lockdown

Vandals have destroyed a woodland den built by a Sheffield youngster to raise spirits during the coronavirus crisis.

Thursday, 17th September 2020, 4:45 pm
Updated Friday, 18th September 2020, 2:38 pm

Lenny Bates, who lives with his parents Julie and Scott and younger sister Livvy in Handsworth, built the den in Bowden Housteads Woods in March shortly before the UK went into lockdown.

The woodland creation proved to be extremely popular among those in the community, with many opting to visit during their daily run, walk or cycle, and helped raise spirits amid all the disruption and uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sadly though, the six-year-old’s den has now been trashed by vandals who have knocked down the structure.

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Lenny's den looks unrecognisable after theives stole the decorations and recently trashed it

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It is the third time it has been targeted, with thieves previously stealing the decorations and trinkets which had been left in the den by other children on two separate occasions.

Lenny’s mum, Julie Grimes, said: "We’ve been visiting the den frequently since Lenny built it and went down and all the decorations had gone. I put it on Facebook and nobody could believe it, so people started making bunting and redecorating it.

"We put the bunting up and went on holiday in August but when we got back we found the bunting had been stolen. I said to Lenny we should just leave it as a plain den because there’s some horrible people out there.

Lenny Bates, then aged five, built the den before lockdown

"Scott then went down and they’d literally just trashed it to the ground. Obviously there are some kids round here doing that, lots of people have said it brought so much joy to their children and made them smile when they visited.”

Undeterred, Lenny now dreams of building a treehouse and hopes vandals will not be able to damage that.

"Lenny is still like ‘shall we build a bigger one? Shall we put cameras up next time and hide in the woods so we can catch the naughty people who are doing it?” Julie added.

"I was sad for him, he did love it and it got us through lockdown. He loved seeing the letters and things people had left for him.

"It was was hard to explain to Lenny how there are just some people who aren’t very nice. To someone else it might be a joke, we just don’t know why someone would do that.”

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