A NURSERY has been left devastated after their minibus which takes hundreds of children to activities was stolen and set alight for the second time.

The Sunflowers at Grafton minibus was reported as stolen from the nursery's premises at The Green in East Grafton at around 8am on Tuesday, April 2.

But the minibus had been discovered ablaze on a road just south of East Kennett several hours earlier by police officers.

Fire engines rushed to the scene to extinguish the vehicle, but the damage had already been done.

"The vehicle is thought to have been stolen overnight from April 1 to April 2, and we are appealing for anyone who may have information to please get in touch," said a spokesperson for Wiltshire Police.

"If you can help, please contact us on 101 quoting reference 54240037240."

This is not the first time that the nursery has faced a devastating loss.

On September 6, 2023, staff from Sunflowers at Grafton Nursery arrived to open up the site to children at 7.30am, only to find that their minibus had been stolen.

By midday, Hampshire Police confirmed that the 14-seat Ford Transit had been found 34 miles away, burned to the ground and without an engine.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: The wreckage of the first minibus stolen from Sunflowers at Grafton in September 2023.The wreckage of the first minibus stolen from Sunflowers at Grafton in September 2023. (Image: Sunflowers at Grafton)

Following the first incident, Nursery workers and the local community launched a fundraiser in October 2023 to raise money for extra security measures, but the thieves have not been deterred.

"We are devastated. Two vehicles stolen in seven months.  Any information please let us know," said a spokesperson for the nursery.

The charity-registered nursery located near Marlborough, works with over 150 families to provide childcare for 0–5-year-olds, as well as breakfast, after-school and holiday clubs across multiple primary schools.

The minibus was used to take children between Sunflowers Nursery and Great Bedwyn and Burbage Primary Schools.

During the October 2023 fundraiser, staff member Claire Tarbox: “This fundraising is all about strengthening our security and making it as difficult as possible for something like this to happen again.

“We’re specifically looking at taking steps to secure our grounds, including new gates and lowering the hedge height around our car park, as well as vehicle security."