WHEN Alec Finch was growing up on a “rough” council estate, he would often be seen looking into his neighbour’s weird and wonderful garden before the school day.
The old gentleman’s garden was filled with bonsai trees and gnomes, bringing a smile to his face when he walked the one and a half miles to school.
“You never forget those things,” Alec said.
Now, aged 58 and living in Thackley, Alec was inspired to make the next generation smile and left theatrical dinosaur masks outside his home.
Since putting them outside last year, hundreds of children have roared loudly in the masks, found opposite Thackley Primary School on Town Lane.
Alec told The Telegraph & Argus: “We always used to walk past his house, every morning and have bit of a gander in his garden to cheer us up and be thankful for small mercies.
“Some people have a tendency to be miserable. After all, a double period of mathematics first thing Monday morning wasn’t something we looked forward too.
“My only reason for putting the dinosaurs there was to put a smile on peoples’ faces, just like the Gentleman did for us kids and parents alike.
“Sometimes you have to make the most of what you have.
“I am a little eccentric and always remember the importance of being cheerful in the face of adversity.
“I grew up on a rough council estate. I used to walk one and a half miles miles to school there and back. It didn’t matter – we walked through snow, sleet, rain.
“We didn’t have much in the early 1970’s, we did have power cuts though, ice on the windows in the morning, no double glazing or central heating.”
But on the morning of Sunday, June 7, Alec could not find the masks anywhere and called the police to report theft.
West Yorkshire Police logged the call but have found no answers as to who stole the masks and why.
Alec is urging anyone who knows where the masks are to come forward.
Most people in the community have enjoyed the masks for a few moments before putting them back safely.
He said: “Personally, I felt a little bit perplexed, but seeing people walking past were getting upset young and old, I thought someone would have a conscience and return them.
“Even if they were borrowed without permission for a few days it wouldn’t have mattered. Doing the decent thing and being asked if they could borrow them, equally I would have been alright.
“Somebody, will know who has them and they are very unique and all hand painted plus quite rare.
“I just want them returned safe and well.”
“Thank you in advance to all those who help.”
Anyone with information should use the West Yorkshire Police 101 tool, using the crime reference number 13200284225.
You can also report crime anonymously to Crimestoppers by calling 0800 555111.