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Widow’s grief as memorial bench is removed after vandalism

PUBLISHED: 12:00 31 October 2017 | UPDATED: 12:25 31 October 2017

Shelagh Jones is distraught after a bench that was erected in memory of her husband, has been removed from beside the pond at Neatherd Moor. Picture: Ian Burt

Shelagh Jones is distraught after a bench that was erected in memory of her husband, has been removed from beside the pond at Neatherd Moor. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2017

A widow has told of her shock and devastation that a bench, donated to Dereham and erected in memory of her late husband, has been removed by the town council without any notification.

The plaque that was on the bench in memory of Malcolm Jones. The plaque that was on the bench in memory of Malcolm Jones.

Shelagh Jones, who now lives in Norwich, bought the metal bench eight years ago following the death of her husband Malcolm and had it placed beside the town’s Neatherd Moor pond where he used to play as a child.

A small plaque was screwed on to the back of the bench which read “When our treasures become memories our memories become treasured. Malcolm Grigson Jones. 1946-2008.”

But to her horror, when she took some visiting relatives from Australia to see the bench, she found it was no longer there.

After making enquiries with Dereham Town Council she discovered it had been removed because it had been vandalised.

Malcolm Jones Malcolm Jones

“I could not believe my eyes to find it wasn’t there,” she said. “I have had no contact whatsoever from the council. They now tell me it was vandalised but they don’t have a record who donated it. We had an agreement that they would maintain it but I don’t know if it is going to be replaced.

“It is all really upsetting, I am devastated. They don’t seem to take into account people’s feelings. I looked on that bench like it was his headstone as he doesn’t have one anywhere else. It was his memorial.”

Malcolm Jones died at the age of 62 and his wife was just 57. Mrs Jones said there was standing room only at his funeral as he and his family was so well known in the town.

“It cost me £550 and as far as I was concerned it was my property,” she said.

The spot where a bench once sat in memory of Malcolm Jones beside the pond at Neatherd Moor. Picture: Ian Burt The spot where a bench once sat in memory of Malcolm Jones beside the pond at Neatherd Moor. Picture: Ian Burt

A spokesman for Dereham Town Council said: “There are a number of benches which have been donated to the town, generally with a name plate in memory of a family member.

“These benches are not permanant memorials which the council would be obliged to retain in perpetuity.

“When the benches can no longer be maintained then the council would need to decide whether the bench is still required at that location.

“This particular bench had to be removed because it was vandalised, no decision has been made as to whether it will be replaced. This would be considered by a committee and all the circumstances would be taken into consideration.”

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