A charity that has been struggling to survive during the Covid-19 pandemic has become the latest target for vandalism in Cornwall.

The Helston Railway, run by the Helston Railway Preservation Society, was hit by the anti-social behaviour when a small group of young people trespassed onto the railway and caused damage to a number of buildings and carriages.

The culprits, who were caught on the railway's CCTV cameras, smashed the windows of carriages, engines and the crew room as well as graffitied bridges and let off fire extinguishers after breaking in to get them.

Perhaps most upsetting though is the smashing of a slate memorial to a past driver of the branch back in its working days.

Police have been informed of the incidents and are in possession of various photographs and other evidence.

Unfortunately, this unacceptable behaviour has come at a time when the Helston Railway has been working to ensure its survival through the Covid-19 pandemic, having just received a a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

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The grant, which was described by general manager, Colin Savage, as a 'lifesaver' has given the charity the means to pay for utilities as well as some limited standing costs.

Not only that, but the money has also provided the means to carry out vital maintenance and repairs to locomotives, rolling stock, plant and equipment

It will also enable Helston Railway to refurbish items such as boiler tubes for the steam locomotive, William Murdoch, and obtain new panels, paint and window rubbers for a diesel rail car as well as engine work to diggers and dumpers.

While the charity did have some funds left after being forced to close due to coronavirus restrictions, the grant has helped towards other costs for training, professional services and transport for items of rolling stock.

This has now enabled the railway to not just survive but also to be in a good position to face the future and reopen as soon as possible.

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With regards to incident, Colin said: "What we would like to see and would very much welcome is youngsters joining us and getting involved in all aspects of running a railway.

"There are great skills to learn and some of our younger group have gone on to university studying rail engineering and suchlike.

"The rail industry is continuing to grow and even the likes of Network Rail recognise our input."

"Looking to the near future we hope to reopen the railway to the public in late June as long as government rules permit.

"There is a new steam loco due to arrive before then which should allow us to have two coach trains and with a new extension to our line the popular buffet cars will be located adjacent to our car park and will be open for longer periods.

"Our own fund raising efforts have not stopped and everyone is working hard to keep income rolling in so that we can keep on growing."

The National Lottery Heritage Fund is a scheme set up to distribute a share of National Lottery funding towards helping a range of heritage projects across the UK.