THE roaring heart of Barrhead’s biggest park made a triumphant return after more than 15 years back in 2014.

Leo the lion was a staple of many Barrhead residents’ childhoods before vandals destroyed the statue’s face and back.

However, some big-hearted council workers took time from their working lives to rebuild, paint and re-home Leo.

The historic statue was found in a sorry state by local man Tommy Higgins at East Renfrewshire Council’s parks department yard in Arthurlie Street, Auchenback.

At the time, he said: “The people of Barrhead are delighted to see Leo the lion from Cowan Park back where he belongs after many years.”

Pictures of the restored big cat were posted on social media – and immediately went viral among members of the Barrhead community.

Locals and ex-pats from around the world began sharing their memories of sitting on Leo when they were youngsters and said how saddened they were by the state he was left in.

Park workers John Reilly, Kenneth Campbell and James Hutchinson gave up their time and spent many unpaid hours restoring the lion to his former glory.

Mr Reilly said: “The response has been overwhelming. Ex-pats from as far away as Canada have commented that Leo is back where he belongs.”

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