Community rallied after vandals 'decapitate' World War One memorial in Northampton

The Stretcher Bearer sculpture was taken and then decapitated by vandals on Saturday night.
The Stretcher Bearer sculpture was taken and then decapitated by vandals on Saturday night.

A sculpture of a soldier in Northampton that vandals decapitated has been replaced  following a rapid fundraising appeal from local people.

The steel Silent Soldier sculpture had been installed in early August at the bottom of High Street in Upton but was taken overnight on Saturday by vandals, who then sawed off the head and placed it at the artwork's feet.

Councillor Nick Alex, of Upton Parish Council, said people living in Upton were dismayed given the sculpture - called the Stretcher Bearer - was part of the commemoration of the end of the First World War.

He said: "We can't understand why anyone would've done it.

"I understand there are people who are very anti-war but it just isn't right. All it did was enrage everyone locally."

However, rather than just bemoaning the disrespectful crime, Upton residents quickly started raising funds.

By Sunday, individual donations of £10 and £20 were joined by a £200 pledge from local company BHL Aerials, which reached the total needed to commission an identical sculpture.

Councillor Alex said: "To go from dismay to feeling so good about clubbing together and putting it right in the space of 24 hours was great.

"Hats off to RB Aerials, really."

The Stretcher Bearer was one of six Silent Soldier sculptures placed around Upton by the Duston Branch of the Royal British Legion and paid for by the parish council.

Each artwork cost £250, which the RBL would have had to meet had the donors not stepped in.

A replacement sculpture has now been ordered and should be installed within weeks.

Darin Stevens of the Duston RBL said: "It was particularly sad because the sculpture was an act of remembrance.

"But the great positive was that instead of being just fed-up and disappointed, they rallied around so quickly. It has brought a community together."

The damage is among several incidents of Silent Soldier sculptures being vandalised across the UK in the past month.

One in Mold, North Wales, was damaged then dumped in a hedge. Another was stolen from outside a factory in Aldershot and seemingly damaged with a hammer.

No culprits for the Upton vandalism have been identified.