Castlecaulfield floral displays trashed for third time
Floral displays in a Co Tyrone village have been destroyed for a third time, weeks before its attempt to win a title at this year's Britain in Bloom.
Vandals pulled down the four-tier displays and tossed flowers across a main road in the latest attack.
Members of Castlecaulfield Horticultural Society have devoted their time over many months to prepare for the UK-wide competition, which annually rates towns across the country on their floral displays.
The society's chairperson, Bernie McKenna, said members were "stunned" and "disappointed" by the incident at Parkanaur Manor, which came only weeks after two separate attacks around the village.
Police appealed for information about the vandalism and said they would step up patrols in the area as the village prepared for the Britain in Bloom judges' arrival next month.
Mrs McKenna said that if judging had taken place yesterday, they would have "been in trouble". The cross-community group won Ulster in Bloom in the village category last year and is hoping to retain the title.
"We don't know how this will affect our efforts, but we will work very hard to keep it going," Mrs McKenna said.
"As well as the tier plants being pulled down, we also discovered that a display of flowers in a horse gig had been damaged and a pot of flowers and two hanging baskets had also been damaged.
"This is the third time we have been targeted in a few weeks. The first was on June 30, then on July 2, and now last night.
"It takes up a lot of time - this group is a cross-community group and we come from all walks of life.
"We have been working extremely hard this year because it's more about the community, and we really fit the criteria as we work really well together.
"This had taken up a lot of our time as it's a great privilege to be entered into this.
"It's a constant battle to keep it all going. Nearly everyone in the village is behind us and doing their bit."
Mrs McKenna added: "The first time we thought it was teenagers, then the second it was more malicious as it was on private property, but last night (Monday) really stunned me. It's the emotion of our work being thought so little of.
"We are all so disappointed, and one lady who works so hard broke down in tears. When they saw the mess, it was too much for them. People are deeply upset by this, but we are getting great support."
The society has spent more than £1,000 on the floral displays and has vowed not to be deterred by the attacks.