Sheffield pensioners defiant after arson attack

Ellena Watkinson, 91 and Fred Shepherd 'Elderly people affected by the arson attack on a community minibus
Ellena Watkinson, 91 and Fred Shepherd 'Elderly people affected by the arson attack on a community minibus
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“We won’t be beaten by the yobs!” That was the battle cry of a group of pensioners after arsonists torched their minibus.

The heartbroken pensioners feared they would miss out on their beloved lunch club after the yobs went on a wrecking spree in Sheffield.

One of the pensioners admitted they had ‘done nothing but cry’ since reading in The Star that the Gleadless Valley Community Forum transport they rely on – and which was donated by Secret Millionaire Chai Patel – had been destroyed.

But they refused to let the criminals ruin their days out and struggled to get to their weekly club at the One 4 All community centre on Morland Road.

Ellena Watkinson, aged 91, of Constable Road, was one of those who managed to get a lift from neighbours, relatives or friends.

She said: “I’ve done nothing but roar since I’ve read about it in The Star.

“To think Dr Chai gave us that money and now it’s gone. I’m very saddened, that bus takes us all over, and I don’t know what we are going to do now.

“I use the bus at least twice a week, sometimes more. We even go away on holidays in it. I just can’t understand it.”

Cyril Mycock, 89, added: “It’s disgraceful, the arsonists should be locked up. It’s going to really affect me getting to my lunch club. I made it in on Tuesday with the help of my family.”

The £20,000 minibus, donated by Dr Patel three years ago, was set on fire as it was parked in a care home car park on Leighton Drive, Gleadless Valley, at 3.30am on Saturday.

Arsonists had also targeted three vehicles parked near flats on Raeburn Place, Gleadless Valley, on the same night.

Audrey Siddall, 84, said: “They could have endangered someone’s life.

“Our van and three other cars in one night, obviously they don’t realise people have to work hard to buy things like this. There were explosions outside my flat and I didn’t know what was going to happen next – it was very scary. When I found out they had done our van as well I was very upset, but we won’t let these idiots stop us from enjoying our lunch!”

Dorothy Scott added: “I hope this kind of thing doesn’t happen to them when they are older and reliant on buses like these.”

The forum has also been given a temporary minibus from HC-One care homes, one of the businesses Dr Patel runs, while organisers wait to hear back from the insurance company.

Police are investigating the arson attacks.