A landlord has been left 'heartbroken' after a £25,000 ($34,500) outdoor area burned down the day before the pub was due to reopen.
The White Horse in Tea Green, Luton, Hertfordshire, had invested in a 'Secret Garden' area, with the easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions in England on Monday (12 April) enabling pubs to cater to patrons outdoors.
The area was comprised of wooden structures, a children's play area, lights and a fire pit. However, it was destroyed in a fire during the early hours of yesterday morning (Wednesday 14 April).
The pub has opened today as planned in its pre-existing beer garden, but landlord Jon Haines said the loss of the Secret Garden was 'heartbreaking'.
He has now set up a fundraiser in a bid to rebuild it, and more than £3,800 ($5,200) has been donated already.
The fundraising page reads: "The White Horse Tea Green is a country pub in Luton which has been built on community support and driven by our customers' needs.
"The team has worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to support the local community with home deliveries. We were the first to launch feed me local, supply meals to front line workers, and food supplies to local food banks using profits from our customers' orders.
"In the last few months we have invested over £25k and thousands of hours of work into creating a new Covid-secure outdoor space to serve our customers post-lockdown.
"Our first customers joined us on Monday evening for a sneak peek before our official opening this Thursday.
"In the early hours of this morning [Wednesday 14 April] our new space and kids' play area was set on fire and burnt to the ground."
The post continues: "We have been overwhelmed with the public support and many customers have set up GoFundMe pages to help us rebuild the space.
"We are so grateful and with this in mind we would like to keep all fundraising to one page and ensure it is put back into the venue for each and every one of you to enjoy this summer.
"Thank you for helping us through this heartbreaking experience."
Police are now investigating the cause of the fire.
A spokesperson for Hertfordshire police said: "Police were called at just after 8.30am on Wednesday 14 April to a report of a fire in the garden of The White Horse in Tea Green.
"Officers and the fire service attended the scene. The cause of the fire is currently being investigated.
"Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call 101."
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