A VOLUNTEER has braved the freezing weather to guard New Addington's Christmas tree after it became a target for vandals.
Ian Lorimer has been standing vigil next to the tree, in Central Parade, since yobs kicked it around and smashed some of its commemorative baubles last Monday.
The 65-year-old guards the tree each night from about 9pm to 11pm, cutting a lone figure on the parade long after the shops have shut.
Mr Lorimer said: "As soon as it was vandalised I felt it was important to do it.
"As work has been a little bit slow at the moment, I say do this, help out. We are a community.
"I am hoping it will go out on the grapevine that we are here and they will not turn up – so far it seems to have worked."
The tree has been sponsored by the New Addington Christmas Lights Appeal and put up by the New Addington Pathfinders local community group.
Members of the public have been invited to decorate the tree with baubles remembering loved ones or marking something special, and dozens have.
Mr Lorimer added: "Kids have put baubles on there for their parents and pets, so it is sort of a memorial Christmas tree.
"This year with Tia Sharp and all sorts of other things that have gone on, it is important."
The Advertiser also understands a CCTV camera on the parade has been directed towards the tree.
Marion Burchell, chair of the New Addington Pathfinders, was among a group of members and residents decorating the tree on Saturday afternoon.
She said: "Anybody can come and put anything on for whatever reason.
"The first thing that went on was an angel at the top, and that was in memory of Lillian Groves.
"It can be for birthdays, births, or people who are no longer with us.
"We were asked if we would put one up for the children in America killed in the Sandy Hook shooting last Friday, so one will go up on Monday."
Marion added that once the youths who vandalised the tree had been spoken to and told why the tree was there, vandalism had stopped.
Melanie Pocknell, 41, has been helping draw people's attention to the tree, standing next to it dressed as an angel.
She said: "We decided we wanted to make a big thing of it and bring out some community support.
"I am wearing my curtains. They look better on me than on the window."