The headteacher of a north Northumberland school has described the theft of their minibus as an ‘absolute body-blow’.
The bus, the only one belonging to St Mary’s C of E Middle School in Belford, was taken from the school car park sometime in the first half of last week.
And it comes at a time when the community is fund-raising to try to buy a new bus for the school and others who use it in the village.
Headteacher Lynne Brookes said: “We were horrified because Belford is such a low-crime area and it was just so completely out of the blue.
“The sad thing is although the minibus was old, we had spent quite a lot of money on renovating it.
“We were just totally shocked really. The kids are shocked, you could have heard a pin drop in assembly when I told them.
“When no crime happens in Belford, why would someone target the school?”
The minibus is used regularly to take pupils to sports fixtures, travelling to places like Berwick, Alnwick and the surrounding areas.
It is also used for trips out to all number of different places such as Newcastle, Bradford to visit the children’s penpals, Edinburgh and theatre trips.
The school has already hadto cancel a trip to a cross-country event and the Scouts, who use it as well, were unable to go on a planned outing.
“We use it whenever we want to leave Belford,” said Mrs Brookes.
“It’s meant we have been able to do spur-of-the-moment things like when the whale was beached at Seahouses.
“Living in a rural area, having transport is so important. Otherwise you can become really cut off. I think it’s important for a small school like ours to reach out. It’s a big restriction for us.”
She added that the fund-raising for a new minibus was so that the school would be able to have two buses, enabling them to take out more children at any one time.
The pupils were all shocked by the theft but wanted to try to help, with some wanting to make posters to put up in their villages.