Sir Rod Stewart donates £10,000 to model railway club devastated by vandals
Singer Sir Rod Stewart is donating £10,000 to a model railway club whose exhibition was trashed by vandals who caused tens of thousands of pounds' worth of damage.
Stands were overturned, layouts were destroyed and trains were trodden on at a school in Stamford, Lincolnshire, where Market Deeping Model Railway Club was holding its annual show over the weekend.
Sir Rod, 74, a model railway enthusiast, is donating the five-figure sum. A JustGiving online appeal set up by the club to raise £500 has been swamped with donations. More than 4,000 supporters have given over £66,000 to the appeal, which now has a target of £75,000.
The singer – who lives in Durrington House, Sheering, with wife Penny and their young sons Alastair and Aiden, who attend Bishop's Stortford College – was "absolutely devastated" upon hearing the news.
Sir Rod, who built up his own model railway over more than two decades, is urging his fellow musicians to dig deep following the vandalism.
The model railway club said months of planning go into the exhibition and years of work go into building the layouts, adding that some of the models on display were "irreplaceable".
For many it was a lifetime passion. One of the locomotives destroyed was worth about £8,000, while the exhibits in their entirety would have a value of tens of thousands of pounds.
Speaking about the model railway owners, Sir Rod said in a statement: "It took me 23 years to build my model railway so I feel their pain.
"I was absolutely devastated to hear that vandals had destroyed what was to be a lovely show by the Market Deeping Model Railway Club over the weekend.
"The collection was priceless, and I am donating £10,000 to help compensate those affected and asking fellow enthusiasts Jools Holland, Roger Daltrey and others to do the same."
The star – whose hits include Downtown Train – is said to be the proud owner of a model of New York's Grand Central Station, complete with talking conductors and air-conditioned skyscrapers.
"All the little guys in the engines are talking. It's unbelievable, it really is," he has said, but warned: "Don't say it's a 'train set'. It's a scale-model railway."
Club chairman Peter Davies told the BBC: "Models that were made over years were trodden on and thrown around. It's a total wanton destruction of the highest order. I've never experienced anything like it. A hurricane would have done less damage."
Lincolnshire Police were alerted to the incident by a local resident when noises were heard coming from Stamford Welland Academy School shortly before 4am on Saturday.
Four youths have been arrested on suspicion of burglary and criminal damage and since released on conditional police bail pending further inquiries.