A DAMAGED memorial marking the tragic deaths of babies has been repaired within days of a suspected vandalism attack — after bus company McGill's stepped in to help.

The cherished and beautiful copper 'Tree of Tranquility' — with individual leaves signifying lost infants — was left with one of its branches almost broken in half, causing widespread distress to families.

But McGill's owners Sandy and James Easdale came to the rescue after learning of the situation and the distress that ensued, paying for its immediate repair.

The tree, which stands within Gourock's Darroch Park, has now been fully restored, with new plans in place to protect it and educate people about its purpose.

Sandy Easdale said: "It was brought to our attention by Councillor Chris McEleny and we wanted to help.

"You can see the names of the babies on the individual leaves so it's obviously something that's very special to the families who come here.

"It's a sad thing to have happened and we're pleased to have stepped in."

James Easdale added: "It's something that means so much to a lot of people, it's so personal to them so it was important to have it repaired as quickly as possible.

"What happened to it must have been pretty devastating for the families, so it's good to have it back as it was."

Town councillor Lynne Quinn, who joined the philanthropic local businessmen at the restored memorial, said: "It's been really great to get it repaired so quickly because every day it was lying there damaged it was upsetting for the families.

"Thanks to McGill's for stepping in, as it allowed the repair to be done really quickly rather than having to wait and look for funding, so that was really helpful."

A protective metal 'halo' — to which McGill's have also contributed — is to be installed to protect the tree's precious branches, and storyboards explaining what the sculpture signifies are also to be put in place.

Cllr Quinn said: "It is a good opportunity to raise awareness with Baby Loss Awareness Week coming up next month as well."

Gillian Wells, of the SiMBA charity which honours babies who have died, been stillborn or miscarried, said: "We would like to thank the staff in Inverclyde Council for responding so quickly and for working with us to ensure that the tree was kept safe and repaired as quickly as possible.

"We'd also like to say a huge thank you to councillors Lynne Quinn and Chris McEleny for their ongoing support and to McGill's Buses for their financial support.

"We are working together with the council to strengthen the site and while the council is increasing CCTV coverage across the park, we will be adding a protective halo around the tree and installing storyboards explaining more about the Tree of Tranquillity and what it represents.

"We would like to thank the local community for their incredible support.

"It has been heartwarming to witness the strength of community spirit and to know just how much the memorial tree means to everyone.

"We look forward to continuing our work in Inverclyde and supporting those who have been touched by baby loss in any way we can."

*To request a leaf for the Inverclyde Tree of Tranquillity or to find out more about SiMBA's services log on to www.simbacharity.org.uk