VANDALS TARGET FORFAR FAMILY'S CHRISTMAS LIGHTS

VANDALS have struck at the very heart of a Forfar family whose fund-raising Christmas lights display has become an annual remembrance to a much loved dad and grand-dad.

For the last three years Heather Wilson and her family have adorned their house and garden at Westfield Place with colourful Christmas lights which shine out in remembrance of Heather's father, who died suddenly in October 2003.

To help cope with their sad loss, the family decided to spread some festive cheer by brightening up their garden with decorations - which to date have raised over 1500 for the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.

However, they were saddened at the weekend when vandals entered the garden and damaged some of the displays - forcing the family to instal a CCTV camera to protect their property.

Heather, a dog trainer at the Forfar Guide Dog training centre, explained the family's efforts had been well received by many in the local community with local children in particular turning up to view the many features.

It is for that reason that Heather, her husband Colin, son Danny and daughters Paula and Nikki have been left devastated by the vandals who struck, ruining an inflatable Santa and attempting to steal the collection box for the Guide Dogs.

She explained: "Vandals slashed the first inflatable Santa which I bought in memory of my dad four years ago and so we replaced it with this second one which has again been targeted.

"We are going to instal a CCTV camera but it is so disappointing to think someone has climbed over the wall into our garden to do this.

"The Christmas display is done every year as a remembrance to my dad who died very suddenly and it is like people have destroyed his memorial.

"It is really quite poignant for us - Dad was a big, jolly man and the kids see the inflatable and refer to it as "grand-dad waving in the garden."

"It is sad that we are having to go to the extreme of installing CCTV but we want to make sure nothing else is damaged in the future.

"It is sad to think we are doing all this for the kids but it could be other kids who are wrecking it."

The vandalism which took place on Saturday included a couple or features being removed from the Wilson's garden and thrown into their neighbours' gardens.

Other features had wires pulled out and bulbs smashed.

The features and lights were originally purchased with money Heather received after her father died, and she has built up the collection since then.

She continued: "It hit me really hard when dad passed away and I didn't know what to do with the money.

"We thought Christmas would be hard enough so we decided to decorate the garden with bright lights and it has escalated from there.

"In October now, instead of being a sad time, we plan the Christmas lights and more and more people have come every year to see them.

"It was just so disappointing to see the vandalism at the weekend and we just wonder why people do it. It is so demoralising and upsetting.

"This is such a wee town and it is such a shame that these mindless people try to spoil it for others.

"If it came to the point that people were vandalising the lights on a regular basis then we would just stop, but the lights have a really deep meaning for me and the family."