A forecourt manager in Southend has helped the local community raise funds to replace a fish tank, at a pre-school, that was smashed by vandals.

Mark Dance, store manager, Toomeys of Southend, read in his local paper that vandals had smashed the fish tank at Mini Marvels, a local charity-run pre-school, and decided he wanted to help them out.

He explained: “I didn’t know the school or the staff but I thought of my own children and how devastated they would be to learn that the tank had been smashed and the fish killed.”

Mark decided to start a forecourt collection and also sought a donation from his fuel supplier, Certas Energy, raising over £500. Another £500 contribution was made by Rochford Community Church, while parents and residents have donated toys and costumes.

With the backing of a local pet shop, he has now presented the children with a new top of the range aquarium and fish.

“It’s been a great community effort,” said Mark. “We had a collection tin at the till with a copy of the article from the paper about the break in. A lovely couple donated £20 after seeing the story in the Echo. It has been nice to have this response from customers.”

“The tank is a lot nicer than the one before, with tropical fish. The children can look at all the colours and learn about them as well.”

Janine Gould, chairman of the pre-school, has been thrilled by the gesture, and commented: “The children have been so excited. I’m really overwhelmed by Mr Dance’s generosity and knowing that the local community is pulling together. It’s nice to have a happy ending to this story.”