Message of hope after 'hate crime' fire

The illumination on the Prom
The illumination on the Prom
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Church leaders are hoping good will come from shameful vandalism after a faith tableau on Blackpool Prom was set alight.

Canon Simon Cox of All Hallows Church in Bispham, who led the campaign to raise £25,000 for the Christian feature, is ready to challenge whoever carried out the attack but hopes fundraisers may be inspired to finish paying for the display.

Police are treating the incident as a ‘hate crime’ due to the religious nature of the display.

And Canon Cox, acknowledged the damage may have been caused by somebody ‘uncomfortable’ with the Christian imagery.

He said: “It is either mindless vandalism or it is somebody who is offended by the image.

“This is a message of hope, a message we need more than ever But good may come from this.

“Whoever is responsible might be challenged to find out more, to question their own beliefs and to learn more about faith.

“It is not too late to ask those questions.”

The display was put up in April after a fundraising drive by Bispham Churches Together.

And Canon Cox is hoping the blaze might inspire people to help finish the push to raise the cash.

He said: “We still have £7,000 to raise but hopefully this will remind people and give us a push to get the rest of the money in.”

The display, which was set alight in the early hours of May 25, has been removed to the Blackpool Illuminations depot for repairs.

Blackpool’s mayor, Coun Ian Coleman, was upset by the news.

He said: “I’m shocked by the damage to this beautiful tableau.

“People who would deliberately deface, burn or damage something like this, I have no time for them.

“Society will be angered at what has happened.”