A COMMUNITY scheme founder says he is “over the moon” after a businessman sponsored a replacement for a war memorial left “obliterated” by vandals.

As reported, a metal ‘Tommy’ soldier feature in a wildflower meadow in Shillingstone, Blandford, was vandalised with metal slingshot pellets in an apparent act of target practise.

The incident, which happened in December, sparked outrage in the community with residents “incensed” at the lack of respect shown to the war memorial figure.

However, a Blandford businessman decided to step up and fund a replacement figure after reading the original Echo article.

Norman Young, founder of N.D. Young Transport, and his family were discussing the incident on Christmas Day – resulting in Norman deciding to call Big Yellow Bus Garden Project founder Paul Williams to offer to pay for a replacement.

“I was elated,” said Paul, who runs the not-for-profit community in Blandford. “I think the family was incensed with the vandalism and they weren’t alone. The thing that got everyone is what the Tommy stands for, that’s what we were most angry about.

“Norman decided to put it right by putting his hand in his own pocket which was wonderful. It was the best Christmas Day present we could have asked for.

“I know the reaction of residents will be immensely happy. People will be proud of what Norman’s done, he really saved the day.

Bournemouth Echo: Blandford business owner Norman Young and student Finn North with a newly donated metal Tommy figureBlandford business owner Norman Young and student Finn North with a newly donated metal Tommy figure

Paul added: “I also want to thank the Echo, there was such a positive response to the article and a few people got in contact off the back of that and offered to pay for a replacement.”

“We're over the moon.”

The metal Tommy figures cost around £200 each and are made by ex-service men and women from the Royal British Legion.

16-year-old student Finn North helped design the memorial garden with Paul and was the one who discovered the vandalised Tommy.

He was visiting the site with his grandmother, who is the widow of a former serviceman.

Finn, who attends Kingston Maurward College, said: “When I saw it I was so disappointed, thinking how someone could do that.

“But it’s great to see the generosity of someone come out. Everyone is in hard times at the moment with Covid, so when someone does something like this, it restores your faith in the world a bit.”

The new metal Tommy has been installed in the garden space.