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Welder speaks out as hunt for Walt the Walton-le-Dale stag statue continues

Posted on - 31st August, 2023 - 8:48am | Author - | Posted in - Bamber Bridge, Crime, Preston News, South Ribble News, Walton-le-Dale
The deer sculpture had been in place for a year Pic: Trash Metal Fabrications
The deer sculpture had been in place for a year Pic: Trash Metal Fabrications

The hunt is on for a life-size ornamental stag that has vanished from a roundabout in South Ribble.

“Walt”, as he had been christened by locals, was installed at the junction Carrwood Road, Carrwood Way and Valley View, in Walton-le-Dale, last August.

However, within hours of his first birthday, the seven feet-high sculpture was gone – seemingly sawed from his foundations in an almost industrial-scale operation that has left his local creator as devastated as he is dumbfounded.

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Fabricated welder Danny Lyons spent around 150 painstaking hours bringing Walt to life – and he is struggling to fathom why anyone would go to the lengths he believes have been necessary to remove him from his habitat.

“It looks like whoever has taken it has gone through the bottom of the legs with an angle grinder. It was in the ground by about two feet and now there are around six inches of the steel left visible.

“Whenever they did it, they must have been making a lot of noise, because angle grinders aren’t exactly quiet – so hopefully someone heard or saw something, because it is a busy road,” said Danny, who runs Bamber Bridge-based Trash Metal Fabrications.

It is thought that Walt went missing late on Sunday evening or during the early hours of Monday morning (27th/28th August).

As well as being “gutted” by the disappearance of the stag – which he made to the scale of a red deer – Danny says that the culprits are unlikely to get whatever they were hoping from the theft.

“If it’s been taken for scrap, then the value will be next to nowt – [for] the amount of effort it will have taken, it’s completely pointless.

“And I’m not sure there is much of a market for massive deer, but if it’s been stolen to order, then you’re going to need to have a big garden and be able to put it somewhere far enough away from the road – and your neighbours – so that nobody sees it.

“Plus, because they cut it off at the legs…it’s not even going to stand up properly.”

The theft has been reported to the police and Danny told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) that he has got friends in the scrap metal industry who are keeping an eye out for his creation.

Meanwhile, he is left to recall the labour-intensive process that he was only too pleased to go through in order to perfect Walt’s appearance – but which now seems like it was all for nothing.

His only hope is that the walkabout stag finds his way back home – and he says that its absence will be felt by local children, not least of all his own son and daughter, for whom it was a source of pride every time they saw it.

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Even if Walt is returned to his rightful place, Danny suspects that it will be “a bit of a job” to restore him to his best.

“We’d have to see what kind of a state it was in when it came back – especially what the paint was like and if the structure had been damaged. But I’m a time-served fabricated welder, so it’d be doable

“I’d made big stuff before, but never anything like this for a roundabout – so when I got the offer I thought it was an excellent opportunity to make something good…and a lot of work went into it.”

The sculpture was funded by South Ribble Borough Council’s community hub for the area and Walton-le-Dale West ward representative and hub member Matt Campbell told the LDRS that he was appalled someone would steal something that had been requested by – and brought such joy to – the local community.

“I thought I had misheard when I got the call about it. Whoever did this must have been quite brazen and I’d appeal to anyone who saw anything or knows anything to get in touch with the police,” Cllr Campbell said.

Anyone with information is asked to email police on 5572@lancashire.police.uk

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