VANDALS have hit Diamond Jubilee celebrations in Horndean after snapping a commemorative tree in half.
Fifteen volunteers braved heavy rain to plant 20 trees at Jubilee Field.
It was the first phase of a scheme to plant 60 British trees – such as oak, cherry, and hornbeam – to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
But officials at Horndean Parish Council were horrified when they discovered one of the Rowan trees had been maliciously snapped in half – just a fortnight after the trees were planted.
The incident, which happened overnight on Monday, has been reported to the police.
John Telford, project officer at Horndean Parish Council, said: ‘It was marking the start of National Tree week.
‘We planted 20 trees at Jubilee Field and had 15 volunteers.
‘Even though it rained all day, we were really happy with it. We double staked them to make a good job of it.
‘It’s always very disappointing.
‘People give up their time to come and update something they think is worthwhile.
‘Fifteen people did that in a voluntary capacity because they wanted to make a difference. For that to be compromised by mindless vandalism is always disappointing.’
The vandalism angered Sara Schillemore, a parish and district councillor.
‘It’s a real shame,’ she said.
‘I think it’s just destruction for destruction’s sake.’
The incident happened on a calm night without much wind and officials are sure it was targeted.
Mr Telford added: ‘It’s an area where we have had vandalism in the past and we know there are groups of youths that hang around in the car park and play area.’
The council has considered CCTV and metal guards, but cost may not allow this to happen.
Mr Telford said the best way forward was for residents to be vigilant.
He said: ‘We are trying to nip this in the bud now.
‘Local residents can help by being vigilant and make sure the rest of the trees remain intact.’