THE "beautiful statue" which celebrated the lives of four boys who tragically died on a school skiing trip has been restored.

The Companions Statue, which depicts a boy and a dog with a ball, on Ray Mill Island, in Maidenhead, was heartlessly stolen and cut to pieces in October last year.

The incident caused a public outcry and the families, with the help of councillor Asghar Majeed, the former Mayor of the Royal Borough, Altwood Church of England School, where the boys were former pupils, and original sculptor Eunice Goodman set about raising the �7,000 needed to restore the statue.

A joint statement by the families of Andrew Watts, Lee Powell, Daniel Howton and Michael Taylor, who died in 1988, said: "We would like to say how much we appreciate the support we have received from local families and those who have moved away, over 1,000 of whom posted messages on Facebook, led by Phil Adkins, and especially those people and companies who have donated to the fund to replace the Altwood Memorial Statue." The families also thanked Kathleen Higgins, headteacher of Altwood School, councillors and council staff and the sculptor, Eunice Goodman, who produced the original mould and completed the renovation.

They added: "This has been a very difficult nine months for all of us, but we are so very grateful for the fundraising and messages of support to us all. This beautiful statue is now back in its rightful place." A short ceremony was led by councillor Colin Rayner, Mayor of the Royal Borough, and Father Norman Brown blessed the statue.