The chairman of the Isle of Wight speedway team is praising volunteers who helped to repair damage caused by vandals at Smallbrook Stadium yesterday (Thursday).

It follows a series of recent break-ins at the stadium and at the cricket club, located on the grounds.

Following the news of the damage, Barry Bishop immediately appealed for helpers to come along to a “Share and repair” event, between 4pm and 6pm, to fix it all.

However, when he turned up at 4pm, volunteers had already been to the stadium and made repairs.

Barry Bishop said:

“I just came up with the idea of doing a share and repair event, where people share their time with us to repair the damage caused by the break-ins. The uptake has been so dramatic it’s virtually already been fixed.

“I had a chap from the Red Cross knock on my door to say that he’d heard about it, wanted to get involved, and asked ‘where do I start’. The CEO of Wightlink came over, who was already on the Island, and donned a brush and did a little bit for us as well. We’ve been absolutely overwhelmed with the support from our sponsors, our friends and the community in general.

“I would like to say thank you so much. It’s re-strengthened my relationship with the Isle of Wight. I was absolutely heartbroken. Being someone who doesn’t live on the Island, I’m trying to create the best environment I can for people of the Isle of Wight. I’m very proud and very pleased that people were as equally as distraught as I was about the damage and I can’t thank them enough.

“It’s now well documented the heartache the break-ins and damage caused throughout the community and my own personal sense of utter disbelief. However, I cannot contain my joy and appreciation of those who came to the Share and Repair event yesterday. The event started much earlier than the 4pm start time and thanks to IOW Radio’s morning reports people were knocking on my office door from 8.30am ready to get started. It was amazing.

“Throughout the day, well over 50 people who had travelled from Southampton, Fareham, Portsmouth and across the Isle of Wight, came along to Smallbrook to offer their time to fix the damage and repair the goodwill and support to the stadium from the Island and beyond. The support was not limited to speedway fans either, with a broad spectrum of stadium users and people from across the Island including a couple who had never previously been to Smallbrook Stadium, who in conversation seemed really overwhelmed with such a great facility on the Island. Even more of a welcome surprise was that workers were not limited to users of the Stadium but also sponsors of the Wightlink Warriors with Ryde Taxis MD Jodie Younie and Wightlink’s CEO Keith Greenfield both on hand to support the repair work.

“I am pleased to say that most the priority repairs were fixed by 2pm, and even after publicly saying the work was all but completed, people still came along because they wanted the stadium to be even better than before the break-in. Incredibly, the team continued with further painting and additional nice to have work as well as initial planning for more security fencing, improved wheelchair areas and more security lighting and cameras. All the hard work was rewarded in the Premier Lounge with a cold beer on the house.

“As a final word, I would like to thank everyone that came forward to support the Share and Repair event and to help fix Smallbrook. This along with the pledges of future support to continue to grow the acorn we planted has come as a total surprise and it really does show that we are always stronger together. Thank you.”