LAST month a children's charity in Runcorn suffered a massive blow when arsonists destroyed their floating canal boat base, Add-Venture.
But the vandalism has made the volunteers and children even more determined that thugs won't stop the good work they do - and they have launched a campaign to raise the £30,000 they need to replace the vessel.
The Project - financed by Halton Children's Fund - organises activities, educational residentials and trips for young people in Halton, providing a safe and fun place to meet other children and devise their own programme of events.
Norma Hornby, project chairwoman, said the children were 'heartbroken' by the deliberate fire which completely gutted Add-Venture, the most important of the charity's five boats because it served as a meeting place for the charity's main group - The Nessie Club.
But she said the volunteers were touched by the youngsters' attitude to the attack.
'The children took the view that whoever did this must not understand the good work that we do at the Canal Boat Adventure Project,' said Norma.
'We mustn't assume it was young people who did this, but if it was, the children are keen to tell the persons responsible that maybe they could benefit from coming along to see the things we do.' The arson has been an unfortunate end to a fantastic year for the Project - but Norma says everyone involved is determined to see the silver lining and turn this into an opportunity to come back bigger and better.
GEMMA PIKE found out a bit more about what the Canal Boat Project has been up to during 2003...