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Well-wishers raise nearly £50,000 for model railway club smashed up by yobs

Well-wishers have raised nearly £50,000 to help a model railway club after vandals went on a rampage at its exhibition over the weekend.

Yobs smashed up models worth tens of thousands of pounds after breaking into a school hosting Market Deeping Model Railway Club’s annual event.

But the club has been blown away today by a flood of donations on a Just Giving website that was set up aiming to bring in just £500 to help ‘get them back on their feet’.  

The act of ‘total wanton destruction’ left ‘grown men in tears’ and led to the cancellation of the event at Stamford Welland Academy, which was described as ‘looking like a bomb site’.

The wreckage has since been cleared so the school could reopen as normal and the club has taken everything salvageable to a storage site. 

Exhibits worth tens of thousands of pounds were destroyed after vandals broke into a school in Lincolnshire and smashed up models belonging to Market Deeping Model Railway Club

The club asked for help raising £500 to help 'get it back on its feet' and has been blown away after the public donated almost £50,000 with cash still flooding in

The club asked for help raising £500 to help ‘get it back on its feet’ and has been blown away after the public donated almost £50,000 with cash still flooding in

Pictured is Paul Andrews from P & D Marsh Model Railway club who had brought his own models to the exhibition only to see them destroyed. Club chairman Peter Davies said there were 'grown men in tears' following the vandalism

Pictured is Paul Andrews from P & D Marsh Model Railway club who had brought his own models to the exhibition only to see them destroyed. Club chairman Peter Davies said there were ‘grown men in tears’ following the vandalism

Four youths were arrested on suspicion of burglary and criminal damage and have since been released on conditional bail.

Club chairman Peter Davies, 70, said exhibits were smashed, thrown around and stamped on, including a locomotive unit worth about £8,500.

The grandfather-of-five, a retired teacher, said the display had taken hours to prepare and included exhibits which were the ‘life’s work’ of some members.

It was expected the show would attract between 500 to 600 people from across the country and was due to begin on Saturday.

Four youths were arrested on suspicion of burglary and criminal damage and have since been released on conditional bail. One destroyed model is pictured here

Four youths were arrested on suspicion of burglary and criminal damage and have since been released on conditional bail. One destroyed model is pictured here

Speaking over the weekend, Mr Davies, of Market Deeping, Lincolnshire, who has been building model trains for 60 years, said: ‘We are devastated and distraught.

‘It’s heartbreaking. There were grown men there in tears because of what had been done, and I admit I was one of them.

‘Can you imagine your life’s work wrecked? One guy spent 25 years on his work and it’s wrecked, it’s just horrendous. They left it like a bomb site.

‘We had to abandon the whole thing because it was it was scene of total devastation.

Bill Sowerby and Alan Hancock from the Market Deeping Model Railway Club in Sleaford, 2018, with one of their model railway constructions

Bill Sowerby and Alan Hancock from the Market Deeping Model Railway Club in Sleaford, 2018, with one of their model railway constructions

‘We had to abandon the whole thing because it was it was scene of total devastation,’ said the club chairman. This picture shows the scale of the damage, with flipped tables and chairs

‘We will never have the time to build the sort of layouts again, that’s where the anger comes from. Some of the models were irreplaceable.

‘Work that had taken many years to complete was totally destroyed.

‘There were many different models of locomotives across the hall that were smashed, trodden and kicked about.

‘Tables and layouts were overturned, dioramas were trashed, it was total devastation and destruction.

‘There was no plan it was mindless. I have no idea why someone would do this.

‘The damage will top tens of thousands of pounds but it will never any recompense the time, skill and love that went into making those models, you can’t compensate that.

‘People have spent their lives building a model and then to see it trashed, there is no human emotion you can explain – just total despair.

‘But we’ve had support from all over the world – as far away as New Zealand and we will rise back from this’.

Some of the wrecked model buildings. 'Work that had taken many years to complete was totally destroyed,' Mr Davies said

Some of the wrecked model buildings. ‘Work that had taken many years to complete was totally destroyed,’ Mr Davies said

'We will never have the time to build the sort of layouts again, that's where the anger comes from. Some of the models were irreplaceable,' said Mr Davies

‘We will never have the time to build the sort of layouts again, that’s where the anger comes from. Some of the models were irreplaceable,’ said Mr Davies

Some of the models and equipment had been thrown through the basketball hoops in the hall, and an electrical cable had was left hanging from one of the beams in the roof.

Many exhibits featured dozens of tiny, hand-finished components, and had taken hours of preparation.

Police were alerted by a resident at 3.50am and a short while later an alarm at the school also activated.

Officers from Lincolnshire Police and a dog handler from Cambridgeshire Police were able to track down four youths who were hiding in the school.

A Lincolnshire Police spokesperson said: ‘On arrival at the school we arrested four youths, who were on the premises, for burglary and criminal damage.

‘We are continuing our investigation and confirm damage was done to model railway exhibits which had been set up in the school for a display today (Sun).’ 

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