Mindless arsonists have destroyed a community bus which had been donated by a millionaire as a lifeline for isolated pensioners.
Gleadless Valley Community Forum members are devastated after the £20,000 vehicle, handed over by Dr Chai Patel as part of the Secret Millionaire show, was set on fire in a care home car park.
The minibus is used to transport old folk from Gleadless Valley, Lowedges, Batemoor and Jordanthorpe to activities as well as weekends away. Residents nearby have described how a ‘loud explosion’ also set more cars on fire before glass flew across the street in a separate deliberate attack.
Steve Rundell, forum manager, said: “It has been a shock and very upsetting – and will be even more so for 70 elderly people who rely on the bus.
“This attack seems absolutely mindless. It is parked in a care home and it’s the last place that we thought it would be attacked.
“It was given to us by Dr Patel which makes it doubly upsetting.”
The minibus, handed over by businessman and doctor Dr Patel in 2011, had been parked in the Castelayn care home on Leighton Drive, Gleadless Valley, when it was targeted.
It could be replaced through insurance – but any new vehicle would still require up to £10,000 of modifications.
Steve, who has contacted Dr Patel to tell him of the blow, added: “Loss of these services could be catastrophic.
“Without this lifeline many community members will become housebound and isolated, leading to depression and other related problems as well as reduced physical activity.
“The money that would be needed for adjustments we simply don’t have.’’
The blaze happened at around 3.30am on Saturday.
The same night, three vehicles parked near flats on Raeburn Place, Gleadless Valley, were also set ablaze.
Fire crews attended and found that fire too had been caused deliberately.
Star reader Linda Haughey sent in pictures of the gutted vehicles – an Audi, Ford Transit and Honda – after she was woken by a loud bang and went to look.
She said: “Suddenly there was a very loud explosion, like a bomb explosion, and the car caught fire.
“Huge fumes set an adjacent car and white van alight very quickly, causing lots of damage. There was glass flying all over the place and lots of more smaller explosions.
“The tenants in both blocks of flats feel so much sympathy for the owners of these vehicles. We are all concerned about our possessions and vehicles.”