04:59AM, Thursday 10 November 2011
Half of a stolen memorial statue cast for boys who died on a school skiing trip has been found – but police fear the rest may be lost forever.
Key parts including the head, football and dog of The Companion are missing and will most likely have been melted down.
The statue, created using £10,000 of public donations following the 1988 tragedy that saw four Altwood CE School pupils perish, was snatched from Ray Mill Island between Friday, October 28 and Saturday, October 29
Officers swooped on suspects on Wednesday last week and cut-up sections of the 4ft figure were recovered.
Experts say the bronze could still be restored or remade, but families of the boys are still too upset to make a decision.
Three men were arrested in connection with the theft and one suspect from Maidenhead has appeared in court charged with handling stolen goods. So far no one has been charged with the theft.
Graham Enright, head of Maidenhead acquisitive crime CID, said the investigation is ongoing but suspects the remainder of the bronze will not be found.
Artist Eunice Goodman, who created the memorial more than 20 years ago, has a resin artist’s proof of the figure at her Cookham Road home which could be used to recast all or parts of The Companions.
It was created to honour Lee Powell, 15, Andrew Watts, 14, Daniel Howton, 14 and Michael Taylor, 13.
Families of all four still live in the area and are due to meet with the school and council on November 21 to discuss what they would like done.
Daniel’s father Roy Howton is ‘relieved’ parts had been recovered but ‘bitterly disappointed’ people from Maidenhead may have been involved.
He added: “It is as much the people of Maidenhead’s memorial as it is ours – but we are trying to keep a low profile until we can do something positive.”
Altwood headteacher Kathleen Higgins anticipates some fundraising will be needed but said it was ‘critical’ to respect the families wishes.
A £1,000 reward is still being offered by the Royal Borough to help catch the thieves.
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Police have closed part of Ray Mill Road West to traffic this afternoon.