Vandals ruin park art for the last time

Artwork designed by mental health patients to brighten up a park will not return after they fell victim to vandals for a second time.
The vandalism at the parkThe vandalism at the park
The vandalism at the park

Friends of Lilford Park believe at least three or four adults must have been responsible for damaging the three giant sunflowers known as the Standing Tall installation.

One was bent back at a 90-degree angle, a second dumped in nearby bushes and a third is still missing.

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Park staff and volunteers have now removed the remaining flower, part of a trio created according to designs drafted by patients from North West Boroughs NHS.

Friends chairman David Sykes said: “Before it was just kids, snapping off the petals. But on this occasion we think it must have taken at least three or four adults to bend these statues.”

Park friends have reported the damage to the police and council in the hope the culprits might be identified.

Mr Sykes added: “Our blacksmith Darren Block had even carried out the repairs for us at cost price. The statues won’t be put back now. You just can’t believe it.”

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Work had only just completed on running repairs on the installation after petals were snapped off.

Park volunteers had undertaken a number of online fund-raising activities to pay for the overhaul.

Artist Salina Somalya worked with patients on the former Lakeside and Cavendish wards at Leigh Infirmary to create the statues, first unveiled in October 2016.

Ironically, the three sunflowers were said to represent Respect, Compassion and Understanding. But by the following February, the decision was taken to remove them from public view, after a spate of mindless attacks. They were later reinstated, but now will disappear permanently.