Members of West Wilts Youth Sailing Association were left stunned after thieves torched a storage outbuilding causing more than £100,000 damage.

Fire crews from Westbury, Trowbridge and Warminster went to the charitable trust’s premises in Station Road, Westbury, at 4am last Thursday following a call from a member of the public.

Two outboard motors from boats housed within the sail store were stolen, along with other items of sailing equipment, before the building was set alight, gutting the outbuilding and damaging boats stored nearby.

Pat Walker, secretary of West Wilts Sailing Associa-tion, said the fire destroyed all of the masts, sails, rudders and daggerboards and both of the safety boats that were housed in the sail store.

Mrs Walker said: “It’s devastating and everyone is absolutely destroyed by it. It’s just mindless and why they set fire to it after stealing the engines is just beyond me. If they had just stolen the engines it would be inconvenient, but this is a disaster.

“There is absolutely no reason for it and because of the viciousness of the fire it not only destroyed the two safety boats, but it also damaged three other sailing boats that were next to the building.

“We’ve only just started the new season, so it’s a huge blow and we were all left stunned and dazed when we saw what had happened on Friday. It’s horrendous and a real shame for the children who love coming here.

“We will now have to stop all the sailing and it will be several weeks before we can get back out on the water at Westbury, as we will have to go through the insurance and purchase everything we’ve lost again.”

The charitable trust, which has been based in Westbury since 1967, is run by volunteers and provides tuition to more than 100 children a week. It aims to introduce young people between the ages of eight and 18 to the sport of sailing.

Police are appealing for witnesses who may have seen anyone acting suspiciously between 8.30pm on April 23 and 4am on April 24.

Anyone with information is asked to contact DC Jane Hughes at Melksham CID on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.