Passionate model railway fan Sir Rod Stewart has donated £10,000 to a club whose ‘priceless’ exhibition was destroyed by yobs over the weekend.
Well-wishers have already raised more than £50,000 to help Market Deeping Model Railway Club after vandals went on a rampage over the weekend after breaking into the school where its annual show was taking place.
Thee 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’.
Sir Rod, who made a film earlier this year about his own 100ft model railway at his Beverley Hills home in California, also called on his friends and fellow model railway enthusiasts Jools Holland and The Who’s Roger Daltrey to follow his example.
The 74-year-old musician said: ‘I was absolutely devastated to hear that vandals had destroyed what was to be a lovely show by the Market Deeping Model Railway Club over the weekend.
‘The collection was priceless and I am donating £10,000 to help compensate those affected and asking fellow enthusiasts Jools Holland, Roger Daltrey and others to do the same. It took me 23 years to build my model railway so I feel their pain.’
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
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
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.
Four youths were arrested on suspicion of burglary and criminal damage and have since been released on conditional bail. Police confirmed they were four boys, with one aged 16 and the other three aged 15.
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
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
‘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
‘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).’