Memorial plaque for dedicated charity worker ripped from tree planted in her honour

Joe and David Cruse at the damaged memorial tree, to Amy Cruse, in Earlham Park, Norwich.PHOTO BY SI

Joe and David Cruse at the damaged memorial tree, to Amy Cruse, in Earlham Park, Norwich.PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

A family has been left 'disappointed and sickened' after a memorial plaque to selfless charity worker Amy Cruse was torn from a tree planted in her honour at Earlham Park.

Amy Cruse, whose plaque on her memorial tree in Earlham Park has been stolen.PHOTO BY Submitted

Amy Cruse, whose plaque on her memorial tree in Earlham Park has been stolen.PHOTO BY Submitted - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

Miss Cruse was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect at birth but battled through her condition to form her own charity.

Later she devoted her life to raising funds for the British Red Cross and to improve education in Malawi.

She had returned to Norwich a year before she died, in 2011 aged 38, as her health deteriorated to try to make a fresh start in her home city. She had been considered for a transplant but her chances of survival had been too low.

Despite her health problems she set up the Children's Hearts charity in 2000 - training Russian doctors to use the most advanced medical equipment for heart conditions, which still exists today.

In her early years she had frequented Great Ormond Street Hospital and the family would take her regularly to Earlham Park, which they say 'holds many fond memories' for them.

On the weekend of July 9, Miss Cruse's sister Nancy had come to visit from Italy, but when the family went to pay their respects they realised the stainless steel plaque had been ripped from its screws.

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'After Amy died we wanted to plant a tree because we wanted her life to continue rather than being so finite,' said her mother Polly, 69. 'We wanted there to be some future for her.

'We chose an English oak because that would support the most natural wildlife.'

The tree had a wooden protective frame, parts of which have been torn off in the past, and the steel plaque reading: 'Amy Cruse: 1973-2001. Love you always.'

'We searched all around for it and couldn't find anything,' added Mrs Cruse. 'We were just disappointed and a bit sickened by the whole thing. It was disappointing before when it was damaged, but when the plaque was taken it felt like people didn't care. 'Because my daughter was over from Italy with her husband and children, it just felt slightly shameful that this had happened where we live.'

Miss Cruse's father David added: 'I was just saddened by the whole thing really. It is just disrespectful. It shows a lack of understanding and a lack of care.

'I could make excuses for them, like they might not have realised at the time, but they must have realised at some stage and they could have just put it back.

'We felt it was reasonably safe. We felt it was a place her friends could go if they wanted to pay their respects.

'I have always been full of admiration for her, not least for all the things she did while she was so ill in reality. She just wanted to get on with her life.

'She was an extremely strong person and very supportive to us through a very difficult time.'

Anyone with any information about the plaque can contact dominic.gilbert@archant.co.uk or 01603 772453.

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