VANDALS ran rampant at a community woodland on the same weekend the group responsible for the area was busy hosting a free event for town residents to enjoy.

Andover Trees United staged its Flowerbed Storytime event in High Street on Sunday, but after its volunteers finished, one discovered extensive damage to the site at Harmony Woods.

The culprits had broken fences and door handles, battered the site’s portable building and even damaged an item from a Remembrance project.

Wendy Davis, from Andover Trees United, says they do not know when the vandals struck since they were away from the site when it happened.

She said: “We don’t exactly know when, but it was noticed by one of our lovely team who had been helping all day at the Flowerbed Storytime event.

“I had only just got back home from the High Street about ten minutes before she called to say she had noticed the damage.”

The damage caused to the site included a picket fence being pulled from the ground, door handles to the portable building smashed off and numerous dents to the building itself caused by nearby tree trunks.

Wendy added: “We have some heavy, really long tree trunks which we were using to weigh a tarpaulin down, and they had taken one of these and used it to make a battering ram on the portacabin.”

A number of cut-out soldiers, salvaged from the 215 Remembrance project in Vigo Park last November, were also broken.

Wendy said: “We already had to remove two because they had their heads snapped off, but now there’s three more that had their heads ripped off. It’s quite macabre really.

“It’s just all the time it takes to mop up after them. It’s time we should be spending on more productive stuff. It’s just draining that’s all.”

“There’s no thought,” she added. “There’s no making a connection between the damage they do and the impact it has.”

The incident has been reported to the police, but Wendy says the group is planning to take tighter security measures as similar situations have played out in the past.

“We are going to do a little more crime prevention ourselves. We’re going to put an off-grid security camera up there and notices to say there are cameras there.”