CHARITY bosses have praised East Renfrewshire’s community spirit after donations poured in for an appeal to replace commemorative trees that were trashed by mindless vandals.

There was outrage when it was discovered that nine out of 27 Norwegian birch trees planted last year in honour of 27 servicemen on the SS Henry Bacon – the last Allied ship sunk by the Luftwaffe in the Second World War – had been destroyed.

The American crew members sacrificed their lives to allow 19 Norwegian civilians to be rescued and eventually delivered to safety in Neilston.

An appeal that was launched to raise £750 so the commemorative trees in Kingston Park could be replaced has now reached double its target amount.

Matt Drennan, of the Neilston War Memorial Association (NWMA), has thanked all those who have rallied round.

He told the Barrhead News: “We have had a great response to our appeal online and Iain Forsyth also started a campaign to raise funds.

“So far, we have raised £1,315. I’ve had some cash put through my door by neighbours and friends and we had an anonymous donation of £1,000 from a local businessman who has supported us in the past.

“We are replacing nine of the trees and are hoping we can also sort something out to make sure all of them are protected, so we don’t lose any more.

“Thankfully, the history lectern and memorial benches at the site, as well as our own memorial, haven’t been touched.

“I can’t get over the amazing response and support we’ve had from the people of Neilston. They’ve shown that we won’t let vandals or anyone else keep us down.”

Anyone who would like to support the appeal can make a donation online here.

Information about the vandalism can be passed to the police by calling 101. Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, where anonymity can be maintained.