STAFF at a Cockermouth play centre who were devastated to discover vandals had trashed all the specialised bikes used by children with learning disabilities have been overwhelmed by the response from the community.

There was a public outcry after vandals, armed with a hammer and breeze block, attacked all the bikes at Wild West, which is used by more than 100 children. They also ruined a trampoline.

They broke into the Strawberry How venue, which is run by West House, on Sunday night and sabotaged all 12 bikes, causing damage of more than £10,000.

Hundreds of people slammed the actions of the vandals, after West House posted news of what had happened on Facebook, calling the attack: vile, heartbreaking, mindles, disgraceful and disgusting.

A parent set up a JustGiving page which exceeded its target £1,000 within days. A Whitehaven bike shop, Powerbikes, got in touch to say they would mend all the bikes for free.

Manager Mark Swanston, who works with a team of 25 staff, said: "I have been absolutely overwhelmed by the response from the community, there's no words to describe all the support we have had.

"We have no links with the bike shop but they got in touch offering to sort the bikes for free. I've had people asking if we need any painting done and a glazier got in touch to see if he could help.

"The community has been brilliant."

The centre is used seven days a week. It opened in the 1990s and has never had any problems until a few weeks ago when people broke into the play area and took eight bikes which were later located, undamaged, in the car park and on the nearby cycleway.

Security was increased but that did not stop vandals smashing locks on Sunday night to gain entry to the outside play area.

West House operational director Cathy Parker said: "They broke a lock to get into the play area, they didn't get in the building. They brought a hammer and breeze blocks and mindlessly trashed the place.

"They deliberately cut brakes on the bikes, slashed tyres, smashed the mudguards and bike reflector lights.

"The bikes are all specialised for use by children with disabilities, they had all just been serviced at 4 Play cycles.

"We estimate the damage is more than £10,000.

"I can't believe what's happened. No one has actually taken anything, so no one has gained."

There are two bigger bikes which have a driver and space for two people on the back, they are for severely disabled people and are customised with seatbelts.

"They cut the wires on them," said Mrs Parker.

"Ten smaller bikes have all been vandalised in one way or another. They were chained up but the lock has been broken and the wire cut. They have been twisted and wrecked."

West House, a charity, is looking into how they can improve security.

"We are going to have to find the money for CCTV but that's money we would like to spend on the kids," said Mrs Parker.

"It's taken so long to get all these things. We don't want to turn the place into a fortress."

To donate to the fundraising page, go to