The chairman of a model railway club said he has been “overwhelmed” by donations after an exhibition was completely trashed by vandals.
More than £84,000 has been raised after stands were overturned and layouts were destroyed at a school in Stamford, Lincolnshire, on Saturday, where the Market Deeping Model Railway Club was holding its annual show.
Singing superstar Sir Rod Stewart – a long-standing model rail enthusiast – personally donated £10,000 to the club after hearing about the vandalism.
Club chairman Peter Davies said the damage has left some members “emotionally destroyed”, with some parts of the exhibits taking more than 25 years to build.
The 70-year-old told the Press Association the club was looking to “rise from the ashes” and would use some of the money to help other model railway clubs with security they had not budgeted for.
Four youths were arrested in connection with the incident but have since been released on conditional police bail pending further inquiries.
Lincolnshire Police were alerted to the incident by a local resident when noises were heard coming from Queen Eleanor School shortly before 4am.
Speaking of how the damage had affected him and the club, Mr Davies said: “This is truly horrific.
“All I know is people are emotionally destroyed. I was showing someone from the insurance company my own railway at home and I was in floods of tears.
“I have seen the good and most of the worst of people but I have never seen anything like this.
“What made the youngsters do this, I have no idea.”
Addressing the flood of donations the club had received, Mr Davies said: “My initial thoughts are it is just totally overwhelming.
“We are totally overwhelmed by their generosity. It is just phenomenal.
“Out of the worst of evil and the very worst of emotions… we have now gone from one end of the spectrum to the other.”
Speaking of how the club would rebuild the destroyed exhibits, Mr Davies said: “We can never do that because of the vast amount of work that has gone into them.
“Some things we made – they will never be recreated.”
Addressing what the club would do with the donations they had received, Mr Davies said: “We will look to help all of those who helped us in any way with our exhibition.
“This isn’t just about Market Deeping Model Railway Club, this is about anyone involved in any way.
“We are also looking at how we can support anyone across the model railway world.
“We are looking at how we can support other clubs who are putting on exhibitions who have extra security requirements that they hadn’t budgeted for.”
He added: “If people want to donate that is truly wonderful and we are very very grateful.
“We are rising from the ashes.”