A GENEROUS shop manager has come to the rescue of a pre-school which was forced to close after being targeted by vandals.

Mark Dance was heartbroken to read in the Echo the horror faced by toddlers, from Mini Marvels Pre-School, who had their pet fish killed by vandals.

Thugs smashed their way through 17 windows at Rochford Adult Community Learning Centre, in Rocheway, where the pre-school is based, between 2pm on Saturday, May 17 and 8am on Monday, May 19.

Staff at the pre-school believe the yobs then targeted the children’s fish tank, which broke and killed the goldfish.

Despite having never met staff or children at the pre-school, Mr Dance, who runs Toomey petrol station and Spar, in Cherry Orchard Way, Rochford, is collecting cash to buy the children a new tank.

He is also hoping to raise enough money for new fish and to fund the clean-up operation.

He said: “I saw the article in the Echo and I thought we were in a position to do something. I have a four-year-old son and if that had happened at his nursery, he would be very upset.

“My own children love fish. It’s something that calms them down and they learn about looking after a pet.

“We would like to get them a much better fish tank and if we can, we would like to raise money to go towards the cost of repairs as well.”

In just a few days, he has collected £500, with £250 coming from Toomey’s own funds, and £250 donated by the station’s oil supplier.

Electrical gadget supplier DSL will also donate 1,000 electrical nik-naks to the station to raffle off to customers, while Mr Dance also wants to set up a collection box.

Janine Gould, the chairman of the pre-school, which is a charity- run centre, said: “This is absolutely fantastic news.

“It will help us immensely.

“We were working out all the insurance – we haven’t got a huge amount and we thought we wouldn’t be able to claim for everything.

“I’m really overwhelmed by Mr Dance’s generosity, it’s so kind.

The local community is pulling together and it’s nice to think people are helping.”