Ironbridge duck vandals info reward is increased to £500
A reward for information about vandals who damaged a giant duck has now risen to £500.
Organisers behind Ironbridge's Let's Go Quackers heritage trail today said they would do all they could to ensure the people who damaged the ducks are handed over to the police.
And with a hugely popular Second World War event due to take place in Ironbridge this weekend, they will be asking volunteers to watch over some of the pieces to make sure they are safe.
The ducks have been put up across Ironbridge as an art trail to bring people into the area.
On July 8 they will be taken down and will later be sold to raise money for Severn Hospice and The Jayne Sargent Foundation.
The artwork, which was designed by 12-year-old Amber Whittaker from Charlton School and painted by artist Jenny Leonard, was later recovered from the river.
Julie Ward, who led the project, said: "There are certain ducks that will be well looked after during the Second World War event, but there are others that are still going to be a bit vulnerable because of where they are.
"So we thought rather than put any at risk, we're going to put a message out on Facebook for volunteers for certain hours to make sure they are safe."
Her comments come after 'Peace Duck' was ripped from its pedestal at Bedlam Furnaces and thrown into the River Severn in the early hours of Sunday morning.
"We could see straight away that it had gone in the river," Julie said. "It had been dragged across the car park, because I could see the paint, and then there was more paint on the bank of the Severn.
"I spent a lot of time driving up and down trying to find it – everybody was vigilant.
"Luckily it got stuck in overhanging trees and brambles near to where it had gone in. We had two complete strangers canoeing who were helpful and managed to get it across the river."
Julie said they were beginning to see a pattern to the damage.
"It's Saturday night, and it's always happening very late," she said.
"It's just mindless fools who have no compassion for charity, no compassion for other people involved.
"The duck could have been anywhere and it's worth hundreds of pounds for charity. You might as well have just chucked the money over the side.
"Luckily we were able to find him and bring him back to life."
Despite the heartbreak of having another duck damaged, Julie said the support from people online had been fantastic.
"There were 11,000 people who had seen the Facebook post about the damage in the morning," she said.
"We're hoping that the negative becomes the positive and the more people who are aware, the better.
"We had someone working on a few of the ducks the other day, and people were coming up and asking him what he was doing. I'm taking that as a good sign."
Councillor Nicola Lowery, borough representative for the Ironbridge Gorge said: “We are absolutely delighted that Peace Duck has been rescued and many thanks to his rescuers who happened to be in canoes nearby and pulled him to safety. This rescue shows the power of people, resilience within our community, and while there are some that wish to spoil it for the rest of us, positivity and kindness will always be more powerful.
"We cannot let a few spoil it for the many people that have loved exploring this outstanding art trail.
"To those that have committed this crime, I would say by vandalising these ducks that people have spent hours designing you are directly taking money away from two charities Jayne Sargent and the Severn Hospice that offer specialist support to patients and families. Regardless, the positivity and support for Let’s Go Quackers has been truly inspiring and I know everyone is behind them to make sure the ducks are protected."
John Carberry, of Severn Hospice, said: “This was very upsetting to hear.
"Not only does it have a potential impact on the funds being raised to support our work, it must be so disheartening for the wonderful, community-minded supporters who’ve put so much time and effort into helping us.”
Anybody with information is asked to call police on 101. Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or at crimestoppers-uk.org