‘Disgusting’ thief steals flowers from Ilford War Memorial

Cllr Vanessa Cole and Cllr Ruth Clark (front) Lesley Bowers and John Bowers (middle) and Micheal Spe

Cllr Vanessa Cole and Cllr Ruth Clark (front) Lesley Bowers and John Bowers (middle) and Micheal Speakman and Frances Speakman (back) - Credit: Archant

A callous thief robbed a “war grave” of plants which campaigners had spent seven years trying to install in time for the 100th anniversary of the First World War.

Volunteers say they are disgusted that someone would “stoop so low” as to steal from Ilford War Memorial, Eastern Avenue, Newbury Park, and they will not be able to replant the beds before the anniversary.

The rose bushes and lavender plants were planted after receiving £1,200 from area committee four.

Cllr Ruth Clark, chairman of the Ilford War Memorial Gardens Action Group, said: “We are all disgusted. It’s like damaging a war grave. Everyone wanted to make a great effort to make it look good for next year. It’s not a park, it’s a war grave.”

A group of about 10 volunteers worked to remove 28 tonnes of earth before putting down top soil so the plants would grow.

She believes the person made two trips to take plants.

“If we don’t put a stop to this they will steal the whole lot,” Cllr Clark said. “It’s not that we don’t want the garden to be used, but we don’t want people to come and steal. It’s to be treated with respect.”

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The roses formed a cross which was planted in memory of the men and women who died in conflict.

Cllr Clark said: “Someone’s stolen those plants to put in their garden. Someone’s profiting, which is disgusting.

“I want them shamed. They think the borough can afford it but it’s the public’s money.”

Group volunteer John Bowers, 65, of Birkbeck Road, Newbury Park, said: “The word is despicable. We’ve had a few cases of vandalism, but it’s the first time someone has stooped so low as to steal flowers.”

Mr Bowers said a woman whose flat overlooks the area saw a white man in his mid 30s sitting on a bench in the gardens.

He then grabbed a number of bushes and shrubs before stuffing them into a bag and leaving.

Contact ruth.clark@redbridge.gov.uk to make a donation or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 with information about the perpetrator.