MINDLESS vandals forced a popular Christmas event to be postponed after they targeted Santa’s sleigh.

Braintree Lions Club had been set to bring its popular Santa float to Marks Farm estate in Braintree on Monday evening as part of its annual tour of the area.

But members had no choice but to disappoint expectant families and postpone the visit after finding the sleigh and mock reindeer had been damaged by vandals at some point over the weekend.

It is thought the props may have been damaged while the float they were based on had been left near to the Toby Carvery restaurant in Great Notley on Friday evening.

It had been due to be collected and moved into storage but the collection team turned up to find it had been damaged.

Braintree Lions’ public relations officer Andy Beatty said: “We’re pretty sure it happened in that small window on Friday night when it was left unattended.

“One of the reindeer’s legs was snapped off and so was an antler. The front of the canopy had also been damaged.

“It’s very disappointing but I guess it is a hard lesson learned for us.

“We can’t just leave the float out unsupervised, even for a moment because you never know what people walking past might do.”

Monday’s tour was set to be held with the help of Braintree Mencap Society members who were aiming to collect much needed donations for the charity.

Vice chair Mavourneen Moore launched a scathing attack on those responsible for the damage following the postponement and described the culprits’ actions as “despicable”.

She said: “There were many disappointed children at Marks Farm due to this act of mindless vandalism.

“The volunteers who were due to take part in the Santa run at Marks Farm had to stay at home instead of collecting. approximately £300 for the society.

“Braintree Mencap supports children and adults with learning disabilities.

“Every pound counts in such a small charity, so this act of vandalism has cost us dear.

“I hope the vandals are proud of themselves. They must be the original Grinch to do something so despicable in their own community.”

Luckily, Braintree Lions were able to repair the float in time for the next scheduled run in Great Notley on Tuesday evening.

It is hoping to stage another tour around the Marks Farm estate tonight and says it will collect money on the Mencap Society’s behalf.

The club stages Santa runs in various places in Braintree in the lead up to Christmas each year and has raised more than £65,000 for charities since the scheme was launched around 20 years ago.

Further runs will take place in Marlbrough Road, Braintree, tomorrow evening and on Monday, two in Great Notley on Tuesday and Wednesday, and the final one of the year in White Court on Friday.