THE FAMILY of a North-East pitman immortalised with a larger-than-life statue has been left outraged after vandals daubed it with yellow paint.

Police are investigating after vandals spattered the statue of Second World War veteran Freddie Gilroy on Thursday night.

The statue of Mr Gilroy sitting on a bench and looking out to sea in Scarborough, was designed by County Durham artist Ray Lonsdale.

Now a £500 reward has been offered by a local businessman as police search for the culprits who struck some time before 8.15pm.

The late Mr Gilroy, from South Hetton, led the last survivors out of Belsen concentration camp before it was liberated.

His nephew, Albert Brewster, said last night: “I am absolutely fuming.

“Vandalism is so simple for people to do. Throw a tin of paint and run. You would like to think everyone in the world is nice, but, I feel like crying.”

Council workmen removed the paint yesterday morning.

“I am just glad the council found it early and has managed to clean it up,” said Mr Brewster. “Hopefully, with the publicity it has had, police will catch the perpetrators.”

The statue was loaned to the seaside resort ahead of Remembrance Day last year.

It was due to be removed, but local pensioner Margaret Robinson then donated £50,000 to buy it and give it as a gift to the town.

Inspector Tony Quinn, of Scarborough police, said: “The statue is much-loved by people in the town and many residents are very angry about this mindless vandalism.

“The statue was kindly saved for the town by a local resident at considerable cost and the incident has deeply upset local people.

“We are appealing to anyone who saw anything suspicious in the area of the statue prior to 8.15pm on Thursday, or anyone who believes they know who is responsible.

“We are also appealing to any shop owners who recall selling yellow gloss paint to anyone, any parents whose children or teenagers were out that night and may have had access to yellow paint.”

Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust said: “To deface a statue dedicated to British troops who liberated Bergen- Belsen would be an appalling act any time, an insult to the victims of the Holocaust and the veterans who witnessed scenes of profound horror, and for such an act of vandalism to take place on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day is absolutely despicable.”

Anyone with informatin is asked to call police on 101, select option two and ask for Alex Parker, or call 0800-555-111.