Grave desecration devastates Swaffham family

A Swaffham couple are devastated after thieves targeted their son's grave, stealing flowers, cards and wreaths.

Shirley and Sid Symonds lost their 19-year-old son Dale in 1987 when he collapsed without warning and died in a phone box on the town's Market Place.

His grave at the Brandon Road cemetery has been vandalised and robbed countless times since them, adding to the grieving family's pain.

'It still hurts, and then something like that happens,' Mrs Symonds said. 'You learn to live with it, but it never goes away. We have never stopped putting flowers down, why should we stop because of them?'

Dale, who worked as a pallet inspector at GKN in Beeston, near Dereham, returned home as usual on September 8, 1987, eating his dinner and playing with his two-year-old sister before setting off to see his fiancee.

The former banger racing driver stopped at a phone box, near the former Woolworths store, to call a friend and suddenly died of an undiagnosed viral infection of the heart.

Dale, who attended Hamond's High School, had always been healthy and looked forward to having three children with his fiancee.

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'They had it all worked out in their minds. They had been together since they were 13,' Mrs Symonds said.

Mr and Mrs Symonds, of Pedlars Grove, put flowers on the grave on Dale's birthday, the anniversary of his death and over the Christmas period.

On Sunday, the couple found that the festive red and white flowers they laid down, along with 'son' and 'brother' cards and two large wreaths, had vanished.

Mrs Symonds, 66, said: 'In the early days we went down the grave every day and it was vandalised on numerous occasions. We would put fresh flowers on the grave and find them broken up. That went on for quite a while and then it went quiet.

'Flowers were taken again about five years ago after we put them down for his birthday. That was on a Sunday morning and when we popped back in the afternoon, they were all gone. This is how it's gone on for years, but nothing had been touched for quite a while before this happened.'