KNITTERS in Malvern who decorated the town for this weekend's hat festival, even creating special headwear for the town's famous resident Edward Elgar, were devastated to discover it had been destroyed less than 24 hours later.

The yarnbombers spent around 100 hours creating a golden crown from wool and strings of bunting to mark this year's Malvern Carnival and Hat Festival on Saturday.

But sadly during Saturday night the crown was stolen from the head of Edward Elgar and around half the decorations unravelled.

Christine Tootill, a member of Yarnbomb Great Malvern, created the crown, which was put in place by West Worcestershire MP Harriett Baldwin.

She said: "It is such a great pity that the mindless destructiveness of presumably a tiny, tiny minority has spoiled, for the huge majority of people, a source of pleasure and delight.

"We believe however that it is an even greater pity that theft and vandalism of hundreds of hours of work and dedication to trying to add to the attractiveness of our beautiful town is the best way that someone can think of to use their precious life and time."

Since the incident the group have decided to take down the woollen display to avoid possible further thefts and damage.

But this is not the first time the group's work has been damaged and one knitter thinks it may be down to revellers who woke up with more than a woolly head Sunday morning.

Joanna Davies-Mourby, of the group, said: "We had so many people telling how good it looked and how much they enjoyed it. But we will be back bigger and better with another project.

"So many people have put so much into it. It's such a shame.

"I think it's drunk people.

"Our previous piece was vandalised as well but we were able to repair that."

Harriett Baldwin, MP for West Worcestershire, added: "I was extremely honoured to be asked to participate in this year’s carnival and place a hat on the statue of Edward Elgar. It was quite a striking creation and I know Yarnbomb Great Malvern were very proud of their work.

"I think it is very sad that someone found it acceptable behaviour to steal this hat and damage decorations around the town. I hope that whoever stole the hat does the right thing and returns it."