Leighton Buzzard Young Farmers is launching an urgent public appeal, as it believes that its competition hay bale sculpture was deliberately set alight and destroyed.
Excited members of the group had spent four hours creating their giant dog entry on Saturday (September 14), only to find that less than 48 hours later it had been destroyed. The scultpure, located at Bluegate Farm, just outside of Stanbridge, was last seen on Sunday evening, but by Monday morning only a pile of ash was left.
Club chairman, Callum Michie, speaking yesterday, said: “I got a phone call from my sister Amy at 7am to say that the bale sculpture had disappeared.
“We think somebody came in at night and set fire to it.
“Everything was fully padlocked – maybe someone came over the gate or chucked a flaming rag over?
“The fire brigade had been and left tape near it.
“Everyone feels a little bit put out because it was for a competition and to try to encourage new members to come to Young Farmers.”
The club is also feeling dismayed because the fire destroyed a £1,000-£2,000 trailer (the type of which is hard to find) and £300-£400 of hay bales. Callum hopes they will be covered by insurance, but says they won’t have time to make another entry for the ‘New Members’ Week Bale Sculpture Competition’.
His sister, Amy Michie, said: “I was the person who spotted its absence. I was driving down the road and thought ‘there’s something seriously big missing’.
“I didn’t have time to stop, so at that point, I didn’t know if it had been stolen. Turns out, it was a pile of ash.
“I’m so angry. People put time and effort into it and then someone comes along and burns it down.
“It’s not happened before.”
However, not to be defeated, the club is still advertising for new members to join.
Amy added: “It’s a fantastic club to get involved with. You make friends for life and have endless fun along the way.
“Our brother, Glenn [who is also in the group] has a sausage dog called Sid, and he’s the mascot of the club!”
Callum added: “You don’t have to be a Young Farmer to join, that’s the key.
“We have our rally, which involves cake baking, flower arranging, handicrafts, showing animals and livestock, and more. It’s a massive event.”
The group is for people aged 10-26 and meets every Thursday evening around Leighton Buzzard. Call Callum on 07427 530078for details. A spokesman for Beds Police said: “We received reports of an arson in Stanbridge on Sunday night. Anyone with any information is asked to contact us on 101, quoting reference 40/53441/19.”
A Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue spokeswoman, said: “At 00:57 in a field near Station Road, Stanbridge, Central Bedfordshire, crews attended a field fire. One fire engine was in attendance and a hose reel and thermal imaging camera were used.”
Crew Commander Josh Matthews said: “Approximately ten hay bales were involved in the fire and it is believed this fire was started deliberately. If anyone has any information regarding this hay bale fire, we recommend contacting Bedfordshire Police”