The Prince of Wales has voiced his support for a village whose war memorial has again been desecrated by vandals less than five months after he witnessed its rededication. A figure of Christ has been torn from an eight foot high wooden cross outside the parish church of St Michael and All Angels at Cottingley, near Bradford, West Yorkshire. It was found lying face down in mud, with one arm broken and its side slashed with a blade. There had also been an attempt to burn the resin figure. The attack on the memorial to 29 parishioners who fell in the Great War followed a similar incident in May 2002, when local children pulled the figure of Christ from the cross and older youths used the head as a football. The attack horrified local churchgoers. The Prince read about the first incident in the national press, and willingly agreed to attend the rededication on September 30 last year. Last night (Monday 17 February) a spokesman for the Prince said that he was "very concerned" to hear of the second attack on the memorial and that "his thoughts are with the local community". The spokesman added that the Prince had written to the vicar, the Rev Sue Pinnington, to express his continued support. After the church service last year the Prince encouraged those "angered, numbed and bewildered" by the attack to see it as the "catalyst for something good." He also said that the incident was a reminder of the importance of "reconnection with our roots" and showed how vital was the thread of continuity that links one generation with another." The Prince was accompanied on his visit to Cottingley - a predominantlywhite, middling area with pockets of severe economic deprivation - by representatives from three of his organisations: the Prince's Foundation; the Prince's Trust and Business in the Community (BiTC). Since then the parish church has been working with all three organisations, particularly in relation to the Cottingley Cornerstones Project which wants to redevelop the church site and replace the 1960s building which is showing its age and suffers from numerous defects. The Rev Sue Pinnington said, "After the wonderful day we celebrated together with the Prince of Wales last September, this is a heartbreaking and very disillusioning incident." The Bishop of Bradford, the Rt Rev David James, said: "I'm deeply saddened for the church and the people of Cottingley. It is heartbreaking that anybody should want to symbolically crucify Christ afresh by breaking this memorial apart. He died for the forgiveness of these vandals." Source: Church of England
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