THE community rallied around a heartbroken elderly neighbour after she found that her back garden had been torched by thoughtless vandals overnight.

Mary Bridgewater, who lives at Lynwood Drive in Carlton, was devastated to discover her home had been the target of an arson attack that left her garden in tatters.

The 85-year-old, who is a beloved member of her local community, was overwhelmed to find that her neighbours surprised her with a community bench and garden patch to replace the damage done to her home.

Wendy Ogley, 59, is Mary’s neighbour and was heartbroken to hear the news.

Determined to lift her spirits, Wendy asked her fellow neighbours to chip in and orchestrate a surprise.

Wendy told the Chronicle: “Although she’d say otherwise, Mary is a huge part of this community and is very much loved by the whole street.

“She was devastated about what happened, and is still shaken up by it but we wanted to show that we were here to support her.

“When my daughter died my neighbours, including Mary, came together to support me.

“So I knew we had to pull together to support someone else in need.”

Wendy was supported by Sue McGougan Micklethwaite and the members of the Royston Crime and Safety Group, who helped with funds.

“Along with our local neighbours, members of the Royston Crime and Safety Group helped with the funds and installation at Mary’s home,” Wendy added.

“It was amazing that we ended up raising enough to buy Mary a new community bench engraved with the group name on it, two cushions to go along with it and £200 worth of plants and flowers.

“We surprised Mary on Saturday with the bench and flowers and she was so surprised - this was all done socially distanced.

“My husband and son went around to repair any immediate damage to the fence. This is only temporary though until some permanent fencing is sorted.

“We’re a very tight-knit community and when one of our own is struggling, we have to rally around.”

Mary has since been nervous to return to her home, but Wendy is adamant that her neighbours will support her with anything she needs.

“How could somebody aim to hurt or target an elderly woman in her own home?

“It’s unbelievable that Mary has been targeted in this way, and I’m sure this incident will continue to affect her deeply.

“I hope those who thought it acceptable to set fire to her garden furniture are brought to justice.

“I also hope that Mary knows just how loved and supported she is by her neighbours. We’ve got her back.”