STAFF at a Chester pre-school have spoken of their shock after finding out that more than £89,000 of school funds that had been stolen from them will never be repaid.
Jayne Hawthorne, 51, of Sheldon Avenue, Vicars Cross, stole £89,129.74 from Oldfield Pre-School, Green Lane, Vicars Cross, which is a registered charity, over eight years and was last week sentenced to two and a half years in prison at Chester Crown Court – but the judge ruled that she cannot afford to repay it.
Current treasurer Chris Barrowcliff said: “The custodial sentence has provided some level of comfort to the pre-school but it had a devastating emotional effect and we were shocked to hear that Jayne will never have to repay any of the money.
“As an elected committee member for many years, she was held in a position of significant trust and considered a friend by most people who worked with her. To think that one person very nearly brought the closure of the pre-school after all these years is absolutely devastating.Š
“Since the fraud was discovered, the committee have made changes to the procedures that she had put in place to hide her activity to ensure that this can never happen again.
“The staff have been hit the hardest, by both the breach of trust and not knowing at one point whether they had a job from one day to the next.
“We would like to formally record our thanks to the staff and all those who have supported the pre-school in the past and particularly over the last 18 months.
“We have all witnessed the true meaning of community spirit and the pre-school would certainly not be running today without it. ŠAs a result of this support the pre-school is now financially viable again.”