Wednesday 20 July should have been a good day. The pavilion was set to play host to the Oswestry in Bloom Committee and the Britain in Bloom judging panel. Tubs of flowers had been placed outside the front of the building; the sun was shining and it was shaping up to be a glorious day.
I arrived at the pavilion bright and early in order to make sure everything was shipshape for our visitors. Imagine my surprise then, to see a uniformed officer, clipboard in hand, passing in front of the bifold doors just as I’d opened up. Seeing me inside, he paused before coming inside to give me the shocking news that he was a Fire Officer, there to investigate an attempted arson attempt on the pavilion.
Seemingly, a picture had been posted on Facebook, showing blackened and charred cedar panels
on the eastern gable of the building. This had been passed via the police to the fire authorities for investigation. On closer inspection, you could see that a pullover, abandoned near the benches to the east of the pavilion some 2 weeks ago, had been set ablaze using fuel from an opened cigarette lighter and left close to the cedar panelling. Fortunately, the fire had burned itself out, causing little damage to the pavilion itself.
It turned out that we weren’t the only victims. In the early hours of Tuesday morning, the arsonist had also set fire to a garden shed locally as well as to conifer trees in the grounds of the Meadows Primary School.
It is truly sickening to think what may have happened if the fire had taken hold. In the event, only a few sections of cedar panelling needed to be replaced. Our grateful thanks go to DPA Design, for coming to inspect the damage at the earliest opportunity and to Jones Brothers of Weston Rhyn for carrying out the speediest of repairs.
While the repairs were being carried out, the Oswestry in Bloom Committee led by its chair, Miss Betty Gull, continued to play host to the judging panel. Oswestry Town Mayor, Councillor Paul Milner, who had performed the opening ceremony barely 3 weeks before, was once again present.
A final twist to the day’s proceedings was the arrival of a helicopter which landed in the middle of the cricket pitch (but not on the square!!). This had been specially commissioned by the Oswestry in Bloom Commitee in order to give the judges a bird’s eye view of the town and its floral displays.
All in all – quite a day, which ended on a high note after starting off so badly. Anyone with any information should ring Oswestry Police on 101.
STOP PRESS: Oswestry Advertizer featured the story on their front pages, Tuesday 26 July: