Burglars target Norwich science centre

A children's science centre which faced closure less than two years ago now has a new struggle to stay open after being targeted by burglars for the second time in just a few weeks.

Staff at the Inspire Discovery Centre, which is based in a former church in Oak Street, were still reeling from a burglary less than a month ago when they turned up for work on Sunday to discover they had been broken into again.

Raiders smashed a window and stole two computer towers which contain much of the data the centre relies on to put on its activities for youngsters.

Shell Fearn, centre manager, said: 'It's the second one in a month. We're absolutely devastated and furious because it makes a mockery of all the hard work and has jeopardised a great facility for families in Norwich.

'Theft is a horrible thing anyway, but people have taken an opportunity to take advantage of a children's charity and of our hard work. Lots of us have put in time of our own because we care passionately about making it work.'

Miss Fearn said the information on the computers would be worthless to anyone else but was priceless to the centre as it contained things like learning files, templates, booking forms, invoices and also details about applications for funding.

She said: 'We were half way through some applications which are now lost, one of which was for �100,000.

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'It's a huge blow for the centre.'

Police are investigating the burglary which happened some time between 5pm on Saturday, October 30 and 9.30am on Sunday, October 31.

The centre was closed on Sunday and yesterday as staff worked around the clock to get it ready to open to the public again today.

Inspire faced a funding crisis in 2008 which threatened its very existence and it suffered a further blow earlier this year when it emerged the 13th century tower of St Michael (Miles) Coslany Church, where Inspire is based, needed urgent repairs.

The historic church trust is currently trying to raise the �500,000 needed for repairs, with Norwich City Council already contributing �20,000 and the trust is hopeful it will be successful in securing another large grant in the near future. Inspire is also trying to raise �3,500 to make its heating system more efficient.

To donate funds to Inspire call Miss Fearn on 01603 612612 or email info@inspirediscoverycentre.com

Anyone with information about the burglary should call Norfolk police on 0845 456 4567.

Have you been a victim of burglary? Call reporter Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email peter.walsh@ archant.co.uk