Restoration work on a monument to a First World War hero has been put in jeopardy after thieves stole digging equipment ahead of an event to commemorate him.
Volunteers have had to step in at short notice in a bid to complete the work on the Lauder Monument in Argyll, dedicated to Captain John Lauder who was killed on a battlefield in France in 1916 shortly after Christmas.
Captain Lauder was the son of the famous entertainer Sir Harry Lauder, who had the monument built in 1921 in memory of his death.
Sir Harry had purchased nearby Invernoaden House and the 14,000 acre Glenbranter Estate as an engagement present for his son and bride-to-be Mildred Thomson – however, he was killed before they could marry.
A three-year fundraising campaign, along with more than 1,000 hours of work, has been put into the monument to restore it as part of a project led by Friends of Loch Lomond and heritage charity The Trossachs.
James Fraser, chairman of Friends of Loch Lomond, said the theft would not derail plans ahead of the commemorative event for Captain Lauder on December 28, 102 years after he was killed by a sniper on the battlefield.
Mr Fraser said: “We have been pulling out all the stops to complete this £25,000 restoration and improvement programme at what is an important historic, but long neglected, site to mark the selfless contribution of local war hero Capt John Lauder in the First World War.
“We have been receiving great support from volunteers and the local community to deliver much needed improvements and are saddened by the very selfish and thoughtless act of thieves who, under the cover of darkness, have stolen buckets from diggers we had on hire for car park and path works.
“However, we are determined not to allow this setback to stop us completing this project.
“The theft has been reported to the police and it is hoped the perpetrators of this selfish act will have a pang of conscious and return the stolen goods so that the Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs are not hit with a substantial bill to replace the digger equipment.”