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Vandalism-hit Royal British Legion branch “over the moon” with Great Yarmouth company’s “amazing gesture”

PUBLISHED: 16:57 19 October 2018 | UPDATED: 17:00 19 October 2018

Sheringham Royal British Legion standard bearer with the 'There But Not There' silhouette beheaded by vandals.
Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Sheringham Royal British Legion standard bearer with the 'There But Not There' silhouette beheaded by vandals. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

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A Great Yarmouth company has come to the rescue of Sheringham Royal British Legion, after vandals beheaded a commemorative First World War figure branch members had seated next to the town war memorial.

The Poppy Appeal collection box Sheringham RBL branch chairman David Farrow chained and padlocked to a table at St Peter's Church last year after the previous one was stolen. Undeterred, thieves used bolt cutters to steal the box. Picture: KAREN BETHELLThe Poppy Appeal collection box Sheringham RBL branch chairman David Farrow chained and padlocked to a table at St Peter's Church last year after the previous one was stolen. Undeterred, thieves used bolt cutters to steal the box. Picture: KAREN BETHELL

After reading about the incident, which saw Sheringham standard bearer Eddie Mayall return to check on the ‘There But Not There’ perspex silhouette to find its head had been snapped off and thrown on the ground, Simon Clarke, who is business development manager at Display Products, on Main Cross Road, got in touch with branch secretary Melanie Clarke.

He offered to make a replica of the figure, which was part of a national project commemorating the centenary of the end of the First World War.

“I was reading about it in the Eatern Daily Press and, as it is the sort of product we make and there were obviously issues about getting a replacement in time, I thought that, for a small inconvenience, we could make a big difference,” Mr Clarke said.

The company now plans to make a figure to replace the vandalised silhouette in time for Remembrance Day and Mr Clarke, who has family connections in north Norfolk, will be travelling to Sheringham to fix it in place.

Mrs Clarke said the company’s offer was an “amazing gesture”, particularly as the branch had also been hit by the theft of a number of Poppy Appeal collection boxes.

As well as using bolt cutters to steal boxes from St Peter’s Church for two years in a row, thieves had taken donations from a butchers at West Runton.

“It has got to the point now where people don’t want to have the collection boxes as although we have huge support for the Legion in Sheringham, we also have people who steal,” Mrs Clarke said.

Poppy Appeal collectors, who regularly raise upwards of £6,000 over the three weeks around Remembrance Day, will this year be stationed in the entrance of the town’s Tesco store.

Mrs Clarke said: “After the knocks we have had in Sheringham, it was just so nice for someone to come out of the blue to help, and I know that the whole branch will be over the moon.”

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