The beautiful ornate wooden had just been installed at Robert’s Cave on Abbey Road in Knaresborough as part of the celebrations to mark the 800th anniversary of the death of the Knaresborough man who was one of Europe's most famous religious figures in medieval times.
Whether this bitter blow happened because of accidental damage or youngsters larking around, no one has yet ascertained.
But, Peter Lacey, co-ordinator for the St Robert's 800th anniversary events, has called for all those who use the site, for whatever purposes, to show respect for its significance to the town, and for all the hard work that goes into maintaining and improving the site where Saint Robert lived a hermit's life and swapped success for caring for the poor.
Peter said: "I’m sure there will be a lot of people whose hard work and interest in seeing the new wood carving being put in place will feel gutted that this has happened. "I’m sure nobody will notice once complete, but respect for what the site signifies, and for the work that St Robert did all those years ago for the vulnerable should surely be something that protects his memory."
Installing the new wooden statue to mark St Robert's role in Knaresborough in medieval times was no quick or easy matter.
Due to the historic importance of the site, permissions for installing the wood carving were required from Historic England, as well as Harrogate Borough Council and Ampleforth Abbey, all of whom were extremely helpful in processing the request.
The damage is a huge blow to the hard-working volunteers.Rosita Moore, a member of the Friends of St Robert Cave said: "I am very disappointed to see that it has already been damaged. "One hand has been broken off and I had to search for the missing thumb. I now have the parts at my house because I didn’t want them to get lost."
But the St Roberts' committee are determined to bounce back and to ensure this crucial part of Knaresborough's heritage is given the respect is it due.
Steps are now in place to repair the carving with the help of expert local cabinet maker, Ted Daniels, before the official unveiling ceremony on the first Saturday of feva festival, August 11, whic will be attended by a plethora of civic dignitaries and representatives from Harrogate Borough Council, North Yorkshire County Council and others.