TAVISTOCK’S sensory garden volunteers have described residents as ‘amazing’ after townsfolk stumped up the cash to pay for a vandalism attack at the attraction within the space of 72 hours.

Trustees sent out an appeal for help late last week after the culprits went on a rampage at the garden, causing more than £500 worth of damage. By Sunday, residents had responded by coming up with the money to repair the damage, with one anonymous donor pledging £300.

Garden spokesman and trustee Graham Parker admitted he was bowled over by the quick response of residents to help repair the damage at the garden in The Meadows, which has been the target of vandals on several occasions — and said the help they received from townspeople gave them the strength to carry on.

Mr Parker said: ‘There are some people in this town who are truly amazing – what a superb response to our appeal. We had exceeded our target by Sunday lunchtime and the appeal only went out on Thursday.

‘Days like this restore our faith in human nature. Although we’re disappointed that there are some people out there who only seem to want to damage or steal things, it’s really uplifting to know that there are so many more people who care. That gives us the strength and resolution to carry on.’

The attack saw vandals smash a bird bath, damage picnic tables, bend rose arches and a treasured sculpture given to the garden by one of its founders was heaved into the nearby canal. The sculpture, an armillary which is an astronomical demonstration device, was rescued from the canal after the vandals had apparently used it as a football, with other parts of the circular structure scattered around nearby. Also stolen on an earlier occasion were two acer trees, worth around £100, which Mr Parker believes may have been taken from the garden by adults who were aware of their value.

He said: ‘I think one of two things happened to the trees – they are in someone’s back garden or they were stolen to order so they could be sold on. Vandals, and we think they were kids who knock things over, don’t take trees, so I think they were taken by adults. Honestly, it was disheartening, because we’ve had this sort of damage caused at the garden before and we were distraught at the mindless damage that was done. The acers were trees that were bought by the family of one of our trustees who died and they were very special to us and to a lot of people. But Tavistock’s response was remarkable. By Saturday, we had £230 in donations, then by Sunday lunchtime, we received £300 from an anonymous donor.’

Trustees have ruled out setting up CCTV cameras to monitor activities in the area, as they would cost around £10,000. The Meadows is currently subject to a public spaces protection order, imposed after a spate of anti-social behaviour. That included vandalism at the garden, which Mr Parker feels has increased over the past 18 months. Mr Parker said the latest offences had been reported to the police, but he accepted officers were overstretched and could not keep up a constant vigil on the garden. Mr Parker had said they were unable to claim from insurance for the latest incident as they had such a large excess on their policy. The garden was started in 2016 as a joint initiative between Tavistock Town Council, Tavistock Lions, the town’s Rotary Club, Roots in Transition and Tavistock Dementia Alliance.