'Dad would be devastated' - Bench damaged as spate of vandalism continues

A bench in Holt that was dedicated to the memory of John Allison, inset, has been vandalised.

A bench in Holt that was dedicated to the memory of John Allison, inset, has been vandalised. - Credit: Holt Town Council / Archant

A bench dedicated to the memory of a much-loved volunteer was among the latest targets in a spate of vandalism around Holt. 

Several wooden struts on the bench in the Spout Hills park were knocked out and the bench's seat was graffitied.

The bench has a plaque in memory of John Allison, who died in February last year, aged 81. Mr Allison dedicated 16 years to volunteering at Sprout Hills and was a long-term trustee of the Holt Youth Project.

The bench at Sprout Hills in Holt which was damaged.

The bench at Sprout Hills in Holt which was damaged. - Credit: Holt Town Council

'Fairy door' artwork made by children and a goal post at Holt Playing Fields were also recently vandalised and earlier this month, accessible toilets on Albert Street and rubber surfacing at a play area on Neil Avenue were targeted. 

Sharon Morter, one of Mr Allison’s three children, said she was shocked to hear of the damage.

Mrs Morter, 58, said: “My dad would be devastated. Dad had worked for years getting that area back to how I remember it as a child, that’s why we chose for the bench to be there.

“It’s awful, not just for the bench, but for everything else in Holt that has also been vandalised.”

Mrs Morter said the bench was not repairable, and had already been removed as it could have become a safety hazard. She said the town council had already told her they would replace the bench, but she was worried that the replacement could also be vandalised. 

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Eric Vardy, district councillor for Holt, said it was believed a child or group of children were behind the acts of vandalism, because they had been seen in the act. 

Eric Seward Holt and a damaged toilet

Eric Seward, district councillor for Holt, said vandalism of public toilets and a play area deprived the public of the facilities. - Credit: NNDC/Conservative Party

He said: “It is worrying that if this continues, then it will have an impact on the play resources, etcetera, of the town. 

“I think it is a parental responsibility to know where their children are and what they are doing.” 

John Allison stands with brush in hand outside the Holt Town Toilets which have been brought back in

John Allison, from Holt, who died last year. Among his many volunteering activities was the painting of public toilets in the town. - Credit: Matthew Usher

Mr Vardy said it was likely down to a “small number of children” who had “got into bad ways”.

Gemma Harrison, town clerk, said of the damage to the bench: "[Mr Allison] gave so much to the town for others, especially the youth of the town, it makes this mindless vandalism even more upsetting for his family and loved ones."

A Norfolk Police spokesman said: "We are aware of a small number of damage reports in Holt over the past six weeks and police are investigating but are not currently linking these incidents.

We would ask anyone who may have seen or heard anything suspicious or who may have any information to help with our investigations to contact us via 101 or online or contact us on 999 should you see any crime in progress.”

Holt Neil Avenue play area vandalised

Rubber surfacing was torn up at the playground on Neil Avenue in Holt. - Credit: North Norfolk District Council