New statue is unveiled after arson attack

Coun Karen Aldred, Keith Sumner and school pupils with the burned statue

Coun Karen Aldred, Keith Sumner and school pupils with the burned statue

A community has rallied round to replace a statue damaged in an arson attack.

Children at St Philip’s Primary School in Atherton were in tears when they were told the mother and baby wicker statue at Blue Bell Boundary Gardens had been set alight last summer.

Pupils Sophia Seddon, William Maher and Jack Smith with the statue, plus Tina Farow and AEPs Keith Sumner

Pupils Sophia Seddon, William Maher and Jack Smith with the statue, plus Tina Farow and AEPs Keith Sumner

It had been created by pupils, working with an artist, along with Atherton Environmental Projects (AEP).

But now the statue has been replaced thanks to the generosity of people in the town.

They helped to raise £1,400 to pay for a new statue, which is now in place at the gardens, at the junction of Bolton Road and Bolton Old Road.

Tina Farrow, the school’s outdoor learning manager, said: “We couldn’t believe it when it was burnt down. The children were all upset.

“That changed when people started sending money in and the pub gave us money.

“Lots of people from around Atherton have been involved in giving money. It’s really cheered us up to know that so many people support us.”

A squirrel statue survived the fire, so the school held a competition to name it and donations poured in.

They asked people to pay 20p to enter, but one family gave £50.

The Lion Inn raised around £300 and a host of other donations were made.

The new statue was commissioned and it was delivered on Saturday morning.

It was then unveiled in a ceremony by children from the reception class.

Members of the community attended to see the statue, plant flowers and enjoy a cup of coffee.

It is hoped the new statue will be seen as something good for the area, rather than people focusing on the fire.

Mrs Farrow was delighted that the statue had been replaced.

She said: “I’m absolutely elated, it’s wonderful.”