A SMALL business owner has been left heartbroken after mindless vandals smashed up benches outside her cafe on Sunday night.

Lizzie Hogan, 28, the owner of Jumbles Country Park cafe, found that benches outside the cafe had been smashed up and destroyed, with parts thrown all around the area.

She said: “I got a phone call from one of the members of staff saying that they had been ripped apart and when I got there I saw the full damage myself.

“One was pulled apart, one had been thrown around the area and another had been thrown down into the embankment a little while away - which would have taken some effort.

“It is stressful for anyone but I am young and it is even more difficult for me because I don’t have years of savings behind me to help.”

Lizzie said that she had “saved up hard” for the three benches, installed to help better the cafe and the customer experience.

There appears to have been an attempt to break-in to the actual cafe building, although those responsible were unsuccessful.

She added that the fact they didn’t steal them - as they were merely destroyed - made it all the worse, as their actions were “pointless vandalism”.

Lizzie said: “This was a new thing that I have done and then people have come along and ruined it. I have worked hard and this is my baby really, so it is awful that they have done this.”

Despite the sadness and shock, Lizzie’s sorrows have been somewhat alleviated, with a fundraiser launched just hours after she posted about the damage on Facebook.

A £350 target was set on the Just Giving page, which was reached and at the time of publication, more than £600 had been raised to help pay for new benches at what the fundraising page calls a “much loved local asset.”

Lizzie said that she intends to also buy restraints to hold the benches down, and will look at further security measures for the cafe.

She said that the community response to the incident was “really heartwarming” and thanked those who had rallied around her.

She added: “Some people have come along to help and it has been really heartwarming for me. It really does show that nice people are out there and I am so grateful for those that have donated or offered their help.”

The fundraiser, set up by Lynsey O’Sullivan, is currently still active and can be found by searching for ‘Jumbles country park’ on Justgiving.com.