Two volunteers’ "pride and joy" has been destroyed after mindless vandalism left part of a Bushey field in tatters.

Merry Hill Fruit Field, of Merry Hill Road, is an eight-acre orchard that was planted in 1999, three years after the land was acquired by the Woodland Trust.

Volunteers Jill Bonell and Pam Rivers, who regularly tend to the orchard, visited the site on Monday to find fire ashes, the remains of a walnut tree and a sign uprooted and thrown into a ditch.

Mrs Bonell, 78, of Merry Hill Mount, said: "I went down to the fields on Monday morning and was told by dog walkers of the damage they had seen. To see the harm that’s been done just makes my blood boil.

"This is just mindless vandalism and I really don’t think people should get away with it."

Mrs Bonell and Mrs Rivers, who are the only two volunteers who work on the orchard, have been dedicating their time to the project since the land was acquired by the Woodland Trust in 1996.

Mrs Bonell, a retired teacher, said the sign that was ripped out of the ground of a neighbouring field and thrown into the ditch cost the Woodland Trust about £600.

However, it is the damage caused to one of the orchard’s walnut trees that has caused the most upset.

Pam Rivers, 75, of Merry Hill Mount, said: "The whole thing is just so mindless, but it’s the damage to the walnut tree which is really upsetting. It’s about seven years old and has been grown from a little twig."

Mrs Rivers, who used to work in pharmaceuticals, said: "As the fire remains are so close to what’s left of the tree, we think it was picked to shreds to use as firewood. What makes it even worse it that the tree was planted in memory of someone."

Mrs Rivers said Merry Hill Fruit Field, which is surrounded by pasture fields and woodland, is there for the community to enjoy, with many of whom having invested money and time into its upkeep.

The walnut tree, which is one of seven to have been planted, was doing "really well" where it was.

Mrs Rivers said: "They didn’t have to do it, and maybe they didn’t know, but walnut trees are the hardest to grow and this was our pride and joy. It was doing so well."

The volunteers said these most recent events come on top of something that happened a few weeks ago when one of the willow domes was destroyed in neighbouring Millennium Wood.

Mrs Bonell added: "I think people need to know that there is vigilance over there and that we won’t stand for it."