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Model railway club raises £30,000 after exhibition trashed by vandals | UK News

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Model railway club members have been left “overwhelmed” after people donated more than £30,000 from around the world when their collections were trashed by vandals.

Market Deeping Model Railway Club in Lincolnshire found its exhibition completely destroyed as members arrived to open up ahead of the first day of their annual Stamford Show.

The club’s members had spent hours painstakingly setting up at Welland Academy but had to cancel the weekend’s events after the scale of the destruction was realised.

The club had to cancel the weekend's events
Image:
The club had to cancel the weekend’s events. Pic: Market Deeping Model Railway Club

In the hours afterwards, they set up a JustGiving page in the hope of raising £500 to help recoup some of the costs.

They have so far raised more than £34,000.

Club chairman Peter Davies told Sky News: “We are totally overwhelmed by the generosity of spirit, act and finance.

“It means an enormous amount to us. It will enable us to do things we had only dreamed of doing – quite what, we don’t know yet.”

They have had responses from all over the world
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They have had responses from all over the world. Pic: Market Deeping Model Railway Club

He said the club hasn’t fully comprehended the financial impact of the damage, but knows one piece was worth more than £8,000.

The club has received worldwide support from fellow model train enthusiasts, including an email from a woman in Washington DC who said she was relieved her train-loving father wasn’t alive to see the devastation caused.

Mr Davies said he’d also received messages from people in Brazil, New York, New Zealand and from clubs closer to home.

The club said they were overwhelmed by the response
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The club said it was overwhelmed by the response. Pic: Market Deeping Model Railway Club

Mr Davies, a retired teacher, said he had never seen anything like the vandalism that was carried out before.

He said: “It was heart-rending and disturbing. We had a lot of very upset people.”

As well as his club, which has 43 members, he said traders and other club members had been affected, and believed about 100 people were impacted in total.

One trader, who specialises in white metal models of people and scenes, had their entire display upended and Mr Davies said the owner had been “totally distraught”.

One piece was worth about £8,000
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One piece was worth about £8,000. Pic: Market Deeping Model Railway Club

One of Mr Davies’ layouts was among those damaged, and he said it took him five years to put together.

But he said it didn’t compare to the 25 years of work one of his fellow club members had put into another layout.

He compared the damage to someone finding their home broken into and destroyed.

Another hall in the school had been set up but was left untouched. However, food left in the kitchen for the Stamford Show was also damaged leaving them with no choice but to cancel all the events.

The layouts had been worked on for years
Image:
The layouts had been worked on for years. Pic: Market Deeping Model Railway Club

In a post on the fundraising page, club secretary Brian Norris said: “We have held our annual show in Stamford for the last 12 years. Months of planning goes into the show and years of work goes into building the layout.

“Imagine our horror and grief when we were greeted by this scene of absolute devastation on the morning of 18 May 2019.

Thousands of pounds of damage was done
Image:
Thousands of pounds of damage was done. Pic: Market Deeping Model Railway Club

“Some of the models on display are irreplaceable and whilst money cannot possibly replace the hours of painstaking effort that has been so wantonly destroyed, we would ask that you make a donation, no matter how small, to help us get back on our feet.”

Lincolnshire Police said four youths had been arrested and subsequently released on conditional bail pending investigation.

In a statement, it said: “About 0350 today (Saturday) we were alerted by a local resident that noises had been heard coming from Queen Eleanor School in Stamford and a short time later whilst we were on our way to the call, the alarm at the school activated.

“On arrival at the school we arrested four youths, who were on the premises, for burglary and criminal damage and they are in custody at Grantham.

“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.”

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