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Green eyes and green fingers: did envy lead to arson attack on award-winning allotments?

Four years of hard work destroyed in a few hours, say grandfathers

A pair of green-fingered grandfathers from Kent believe that they are being targeted by "jealous" arsonists after their award-winning allotments were torched.

Roy Brookman, 78, and Bill Boag, a 64-year-old retired policeman, claimed the first and second prizes in this year's Bexley in Bloom competition.

But the Sidcup pair were left devastated after their plots were destroyed by fire last Sunday evening. Firefighters were called to the blaze which broke out at around 9pm.

"Both our sheds were totally burnt to the ground - it's so depressing," said Mr Brookman, who suspects that the fire may have been set in retaliation for his unbeaten record at Bexley in Bloom. He followed up a Best Allotment Plot victory last October with further success this Summer.

"We don't know what happened. There could be jealousy going on," he suggested. "We can't say anything and accuse anyone but that's what we think. We got first and second prize at the Bexley in Bloom competition in July."

Mr Brookman, a retired bus driver, and Mr Boag regularly tend to their crops at the allotments in Sidcup, Kent.

Mr Brookman said the blaze destroyed not only the displays and crops at the allotment he has cultivated for the last five years, but also his shed which housed a cooker, tools and tunnels.

The grandfather of six said: "It could cost £500 to £600 to replace but it's not just the expense, the work we've put in. Four years of hard work destroyed in a few hours. So many tools and memories of keepsakes."

Around 10 firefighters in two fire engines from Sidcup station managed to prevent the blaze from spreading to the entire allotment. Smoke could be seen billowing out over the rail track which runs behind the plots. Bexley police confirmed that they are treating the blaze, which broke out during National Allotments Week, as suspicious.