Edinburgh’s best-loved toy soldiers which were destroyed by vandals last week will be restored with the help of a local garage owner in time for family Christmas trips to the city this weekend.
The nine-foot-tall toy guards usually stand outside The Edinburgh Grand hotel at St Andrew Square and attract dozens of children, eager to pose with the giants.
However, it is understood that vandals tried to steal the soldiers in the early hours of November 22 before realising the objects were bolted to the ground.
They then proceeded to take out their anger on one of the statues’ legs and left the city guard unable to report for duty.
The statues have become a staple feature of the city’s Christmas decorations and staff at the hotel as well as young families were “deeply saddened” by the destructive act.
Martin Shiels, from Colinton, heard about the vandalism in the Edinburgh Evening News and was “moved into action” by what he read.
The 59-year-old, who runs ECS accident repair in South Gyle, got in touch with the owners of The Edinburgh Grand to offer his help.
He said: “I was reading the article about the vandalism in my paper and was touched by the fact that children were having their photos spoiled. I knew I wanted to help and thought we could have a bit of fun with it and carry out a fake surgery so the children can see the toys being fixed.”
The business owner is busy preparing to “operate” on the broken soldier’s cracked foot at his workshop this Thursday.
He plans to dress the wounded soldier up in a patient gown and while he “knows it’s a little gimmicky” he said: “I am doing it so the children can see the toys getting properly fixed and they’ll know they can still get their pictures taken with him.”
Gavin MacLennan, general manager of The Edinburgh Grand, said: “We have been overwhelmed by the response to our injured toy soldier and now thanks to Martin, our toy soldier will be back on his feet, standing guard at The Edinburgh Grand’s entrance, in no time.”