A BEHEADED statue has been restored to its former glory.

The Watchers, outside Toothill Community Centre, was attacked in an act of vandalism last November.

It represents a family looking over the community but the head of the father figure was decapitated.

Old Town stonemason Toby Robson offered his services and started working on the statue two weeks ago.

He said: “I offered to repair it because it’s a local sculpture and it’s at the heart of the community.

“It’s a big challenge because the sculpture is more than 40 years old and nobody knows what materials went into it originally. In terms of sand and the cement mix that was used, nobody remembers.

“It was difficult. There weren’t many pictures of the head when it was brand new. However, lots of people from the community helped by sending me pictures, and one local mum, Sam Blyth, really helped by speaking to Hazelwood Academy which had one of the artists’ models, which they loaned me.”

The statue was covered with bird poo, lichen, mould, algae and moss, according to Toby.

He cleaned it with soapy water and elbow grease to look at the damage and see the colour of the original cement.

He added: “I used a blend of locally-supplied sand along with cement and an admix for strength. The repair was built up on a wire armature which connected to the stump of the neck of the missing head. The cement was carved back whilst still wet to give the detail.”

Designed by Carleton Attwood, The Watchers was unveiled outside Toothill Community Centre in June 1982.

Toby said: “I was helped by the excellent weather – and was really encouraged by all of the positive comments from the people of Toothill. I know there are lots of reasons to be feeling downhearted with the announcements of the new lockdown measures, but I hope seeing a restored statue which is all about family and community might help raise a smile to a few faces.

“I’m nearly done but I don’t know when the grand opening will be.”

Councillor Keith Williams, the cabinet member for climate change and ward member for Shaw, said: “I was extremely sad to hear that the statue had been vandalised, but I’m glad to have been able to authorise the work for the people of Toothill and I’m delighted to see how well the restoration project is coming along.

“Toby is a highly-skilled stonemason and I have every faith that he will do a fantastic job of bringing it back to life for the benefit of the whole community.”

At the time of the incident a 26-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and was detained under the Mental Health Act.

But a spokeswoman for Wiltshire Police told the Adver this week: “No further police action was taken due to his mental health issues.”

Hayley Sproule, who was on her way home from Westlea Primary school with her nine-year-old daughter when she saw a man pulling and twisting the head, told the Adver: “I’m thrilled! I’ve been following the process via Facebook and love seeing it while on my daily walks, I can’t wait to see it finished.

“I’m very happy the decision was made to restore it rather than remove it in the end.”