Upset as 'mindless vandals' trash saplings after volunteers plant 400 trees on Hayling Island

MINDLESS vandals were chased off after wrecking saplings just days after they were planted for the Queen’s platinum jubilee.

Monday, 6th December 2021, 4:55 am

Volunteers spent nearly three hours planting 350 trees on Wednesday last week after they were gifted by the Woodland Trust.

But two young vandals ran amok damaging up to 30 at Mengham Park, Hayling Island, on Friday night.

They were only stopped after nearby resident Linda Daynes, 61, told them to stop when she heard banging.

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Mark Coates, resident Linda Daynes and Richard Coates. Linda discovered the newly planted saplings being vandalised and Richard and Mark have set about repairing the damage in Mengham Park, Hayling Island. Picture: Alex Shute

‘They just ran,’ she said. ‘They knew they were doing wrong so they just ran.

‘I went out and had a look and I was really gutted to see them do that - it’s heart-destroying.’

The trees had been planted by volunteers from the Heart of Hayling Boxing Academy, founded by Mark Coates, which works with troubled youngsters.

Mark and dad Richard got to work and quickly replaced broken saplings.

Volunteers at the tree planting in Mengham Park on December 1. Picture: Mike Cooter (120121)

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Mark told The News: ‘It’s no excuse for their behaviour but they can learn and they can understand they’re part of this community.

‘They’ll turn around the right way eventually. I know those two kids - and I’d love them to come to the boxing club - it’s there for them.

‘The trees are there for them, and it’s like wrecking your own backyard.’

PCSOs Becky Hodson and Tom Presdee joining in with the tree planting on December 1. Picture: Mike Cooter (120121)

Richard, who had applied for the trees from the Woodland Trust, spent time on Saturday morning restoring and replacing the saplings.

He said: ‘Mindless vandals were chased off by nearby residents but not before 30 of the saplings had been damaged by them and protective covers and canes smashed.

‘My son and myself managed to repair the damage to the majority of the trees but some were lost.’

Police have been informed about the damage and are understood to be investigating the incident.

Two PCSOs - Becky Hodson and Tom Presdee - helped to plant the trees on Wednesday, along with Hayling tree wardens and Havant Borough Council.

The trees were installed ahead of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee next year, and were designed to help safeguard the park against travellers setting up camp.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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