Arsonists hit Tyne United RC

Members of the Tyne United Rowing Club have been left devastated after arsonists struck twice in one night.  As police hunt the offenders, who caused thousands of pounds of damage to the lottery-funded clubhouse, users are wondering why anyone would want to target them.

Based in Blaydon, near the south end of the Newburn Bridge, Tyne United, is the only rowing club in Gateshead. It was set up to give young people from all backgrounds the chance to learn to row.  The organisation has impressed funders so much it has secured more than £1m from public bodies, including a grant from British Rowing, which last year paid for the completion of its clubhouse.

Chairwoman Barbara Millns said, “We have no idea why anyone would target us and the fact that they have come back twice is very worrying. We are worried they are going to come back. We are working with young people, it’s a brand new building and it’s their clubhouse, and somebody seems to have got it in for us.”

When Barbara arrived at the rowing club, shortly after 8 pm she found police and firefighters, who told her it had been set ablaze.  Emergency services had arrived quickly enough to extinguish the flames before any major damage was caused. Then not long after returning home at 10.30pm, Barbara received another call to say the arsonists had returned.

This time their attempts to sabotage the clubhouse were more successful and they caused massive damage to the outside of the building.

Barbara says she was relieved no one was inside.  “We have been very, very lucky,” she said. “There could have been lots of people inside the building for all they knew.”

Police are appealing for anyone who could help catch the arsonists to get in touch.  Acting Insp Dave Carruthers, of Northumbria Police’s Gateshead Outer West Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “This is believed to have been a malicious attack and police are treating it as arson.  We want to reassure the public that we are taking this incident very seriously and we have increased police visibility in the area to prevent any further incident.”

Anyone with information should call Northumbria Police on 03456 043 043 ext 69191 and ask for the Gateshead Outer West Neighbourhood Policing Team.

Newcastle Chronicle

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