THE site of a statue in honour of much-loved Scots mountaineer and broadcaster Tom Weir has been targeted by thieves.

Donation posts at the site of the statue in Balmaha, on the east shore of Loch Lomond, were broken into, and money stolen from inside.

The theft was discovered by visitors to the site on the morning of Sunday, December 1.

The money stolen was earmarked for maintaining the popular statue and associated picnic area.

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Sandy Fraser from the Oak Tree Inn in Balmaha, who looks after the statue site on behalf of the Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs and the Tom Weir Memorial Group, said: "This is very sad news and a setback for the efforts to raise funds to maintain this hugely popular site.

"It follows on from two other break ins this year at our St Mocha Coffee Shop and one of our nearby cottages.

"Hopefully the police will be able to track down the thieves who are undermining the great work of voluntary groups in honouring the memory of Tom Weir who did so much to popularise the great outdoors.’’

James Fraser, chairman of the Friends, added: "We are very disappointed that the Tom Weir site has been targeted by thieves who used bolt cutters to remove padlocks from three donation posts.

"Fortunately, we regularly empty the donation posts so the amount stolen will not have been substantial.

"Nonetheless, this thoughtless act serves as reminder that we need to remain viligant and increase our efforts to protect this very special heritage site which has been enjoyed by almost a million visitors over the past five years."

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The site, incorporating the statue of Tom, along with a mountain garden and a picnic area, is visited by around 200,000 visitors a year.

Organisers are busy preparing to mark the millionth visitor in the run up to the fifth anniversary of the statue unveiling on Sunday, December 29 – which is also the 105th anniversary of Tom’s birthday.

Born in Glasgow in 1914, Tom Weir was best known as the host of the long-running STV series Weir's Way, first broadcast from 1976 to 1987 and later repeated from the late 1990s into the early 2000s in a late-night slot on the channel.

He died in July 2006 and was buried in the same plot as the ashes of his older sister, actress Molly Weir, in the grounds of the now-closed Kilmaronock Parish Church near Drymen.

It costs around £5,000 a year to maintain the statue and the site in good condition for visitors to enjoy, and the funds raised from visitors via the on-site donation posts make an important contribution to raising this sum.