Dorset

Surfer Bob 'will return' despite Boscombe suspected arson

Burnt out van Image copyright Chris Wakefield
Image caption The van was burnt out in the early hours of Saturday

The man behind a character to promote child safety around Bournemouth has vowed to continue community activities despite a minibus being destroyed in a suspected arson attack.

The van was used to transport the "Surfer Bob" character as well as helping local charities.

It had been parked up on Wharncliffe Road, Boscombe and was uninsured when it was torched on Saturday.

Chris Wakefield promised the project would "get back up and running".

The minibus was used as a mobile base for the character to promote beach safety and "stranger danger" campaigns, as well as taking groups of young people to events such as beach cleans.

Image copyright chris wakefield
Image caption Mr Wakefield said Surfer Bob had become a well known figure around Boscombe

Mr Wakefield said the converted ambulance was well known in the area, having been painted by a local artist.

"A van can be replaced but this was something a lot of people put their heart and soul into it - it's not something you can get back," he said.

Mr Wakefield, who is also a Bournemouth borough councillor, said he now faces having to pay for the damage caused to the tarmac and surrounding fence.

Dorset Fire and Rescue said: "It is believed that the van had been set on fire deliberately and officers are investigating.

"No arrests have been made."

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