Toddlers’ East End sports day marred by yobs

Police were called eight times when youths disrupted a nursery school’s toddler sports day in church gardens in London’s East End smashing bottles and setting off fireworks.

The yobs gather through the day in the grounds of St George-in-the-East parish church in Shadwell and taunt parents with foul abuse and threats in front of their children.

One mum was even robbed of her mobile phone last month, while there has also been an attempted mugging of a dad collecting his child.

But things came to a head when Greengables Montissori, which meets in the church crypt in The Highway, held its end-of-term toddlers’ sports day for 80 children and their parents in the church grounds.

The yobs swore and hurled abuse, smashed bottles and set off fireworks—terrifying the children. Eight parents rang 999 during the half-hour melee.

“I am just raging by the whole thing,” nursery manager Grace Ivory told the East London Advertiser.

“We had 300 people at our sports day including 80 toddlers when the youths turned up setting off fire-crackers which could have gone in direction of the children—it was all quite scary.

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“Police said it would take an hour to get here. Of course the gang cleared off before they arrived.”

The parents want more police presence in the open church grounds and have even suggested a ‘zero tolerance’ zone around Shadwell, similar to non-alcohol zones that have been used around Brick Lane and Whitechapel.

Grace calls the Shadwell neighbourhood police “every other day from 9am onwards”—but says response is poor.

“We need to get this out in the open,” she added. “It’s ridiculous—I worry about the children I’m responsible for.”

Now the angry parents want to run a petition when the nursery resumes after the summer break in two weeks’ time to send to the Met’s Tower Hamlets borough commander demanding higher police presence.

St George’s has been troubled with yobs going back at least four years, when parish priest Michael Ainsworth was attacked in the church grounds. It led to calls by the East End’s Interfaith Forum for more police protection for vulnerable vicars and churches.