Rowan's dad expresses dismay over playpark fire

The father of the tragic boy the new playpark in Galashiels Public Park is named after is calling for security cameras to be installed there following what appears to have been an arson attack on the £290,000 facility.

Wednesday, 25th July 2018, 4:46 pm
Updated Wednesday, 25th July 2018, 4:47 pm

The park, opened in May, was named after Rowan Boland, a nine-year-old Galashiels lad who died while playing cricket in 2010.

The trust also named after him has provided much-needed funds for many young athletes over the years too.

His father David helped open the park together with Scotland rugby coach Gregor Townsend, and he told us he knew about swings having been vandalised but was unaware of the fireraising attempt.

He said: “If this is true, I think it’s an absolute disgrace. 99% of the town and surrounding area will be let down by a few mindless idiots. We, as a town, will need to look for funds to install CCTV before any major damage is done to what is a brilliant play facility.”

Former Southern Reporter columnist Stuart Cameron was driving past the park on Tuesday night when he saw a plume of smoke coming from the tower and caught it on his dashcam.

He said: “The smoke was billowing. I could see there were a couple of people there, although the light was fading.”

He tried to call the police and fire service on 101, but it was busy, and the fire seemed to be going out.

He mentioned it in a text to photographer Alwyn Johnston, who lives nearby, but by the time he got there the only evidence of a fire was some burnt paper and water, so it appears the blaze had been put out by a passer-by before it could spread.

Both the police and the fire service told us the incident was not reported.

It’s not the first act of vandalism to happen there either as the straps for three of the children’s swing seats were stolen within days of being unveiled.

Last year, the playparks at both Wilton Lodge Park in Hawick and Beech Avenue in Langlee were vandalised soon after opening too after becoming magnets for anti-social behaviour.

The new park in Galashiels is a huge hit with families, so David says he is hoping any such behaviour can be nipped in the bud.