FROLICKING foxes left a children’s play area in tatters after taking it over during lockdown and breaking all the toys.

The furry family of fun-seekers built a tunnel to sneak into the All About Family Hub in Laindon, under cover of darkness. But their energetic use of the leisure equipment in the centre’s garden caused major damage and it had to be closed.

During their sly night-time soirees, the animals broke sand and water trays, bikes, scooters, push-along cars, balls, a basketball hoop and a mud kitchen.

Workers at the centre – run by the Essex Child and Family Wellbeing Service – were determined not to be out-foxed when they first discovered what had happened.

They applied to Virgin Care’s Feel the Difference Fund to replace the destroyed toys and received a £750 grant.

The play area has now been secured and the foxes can no longer get into the garden.

Work will soon start renovating it and putting in exciting new toys for the children.

These will include a new sand and water table, a mud pie kitchen, a balance footbridge and a giant obstacle course.

Before lockdown, the popular play area and hub were used by between 80 and 100 families a week who attended a range of activities there.

The garden was put in place for all children including those whose homes may not have any outside space.

Louise Syed, healthy family team lead at the Essex Child and Family Wellbeing Service, said “We applied for the Feel the Difference grant because we know children and families value the opportunity to play outside.

“It was a shame when we had to close the garden after the foxes came along, but the funding from Virgin Care has meant we can rebuild it in a way that was better than before.

“We know that this play area is greatly valued so it’s important for us to provide these improved play opportunities for our families.”