Budleigh charity beach art wrecked by vandals

Pebble art on Budleigh Salterton beach before it was damaged. Ref exb 30-16SH 3036. Picture: Simon H

Pebble art on Budleigh Salterton beach before it was damaged. Ref exb 30-16SH 3036. Picture: Simon Horn. - Credit: Archant

Vandals have trashed months of beach art, scattering thousands of pebbles carefully laid by Budleigh’s Banksy.

Each year, Simon Wood, of Armytage Road, spends hours on Budleigh Salterton beach, delighting visitors with huge pebble designs in aid of charity.

Simon’s pop-up art gallery was vandalised over the weekend - most of his pebble art was destroyed overnight.

The culprits returned on Tuesday night; this time rearranging the pebbles into pornographic images.

Simon said ‘phallic symbols’ had been added to his remaining work by yesterday morning (Wednesday).

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“I couldn’t leave it. What they had done, it would shock everybody,” said Simon.

Simon, who raises funds for the National Deaf Children’s Society with his stone creations, said the pebble pictures had been deliberately kicked apart.

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He is slowly trying to repair the damage with the help of friends, but said further planned designs would be put on hold until the pebble gallery was fixed.

He said he had not been put off from returning next year with his popular pebble art. His designs have been enjoyed by visitors from across the globe.

Vandalised designs included a shield made by pupils from St Peter’s Primary School and a bus tribute in honour of Budleigh’s ‘adopted son’, On the Buses star Reg Varney, who retired to the town.

Simon’s sixth piece, a dragon, was finished hours before vandals put the boot in. It had been intended as a surprise for a friend who never got to see it.

Simon said ‘countless’ hours of work had gone. “It was quite a shock,” he said. “ It’s upset me. It’s the first year it’s been vandalised. I have had pockets of trouble before, but this is the worst by a long way. The whole town is upset, I think, from what I have heard.

“My time has been stolen from me. It’s not just vandalism, it’s theft of my time and that is precious.”

Budleigh’s mayor, Councillor Chris Kitson, said Simon’s pebble art benefited the town, attracting scores of visitors. He said the vandalism was criminal and urged residents to call the police if they saw someone deliberately destroying the pebble gallery.

“It’s a shame that mindless people see an opportunity to wreck somebody else’s good work,” said Cllr Kitson.

“Simon has a very creative skill.The pebbles are a feature of the town. People come to look at them.”

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