Walberswick village sign returns home

A VILLAGE sign has been put back in its rightful place in north Suffolk nearly 30 years after being stolen.

The Walberswick sign, put up to commemorate the Coronation, was unveiled to the public last Friday after a unique display of goodwill and community spirit.

The sign was stolen in the 1980s and about 15 years ago ended up in the garden of Lea and Philip Newstead in East London. They then moved to Kent, taking the sign with them as it was one of their favourite garden ornaments.

They had purchased it from a friend a few years before and although they had looked into the name Walberswick, were unaware that it had been missing from the village under mysterious circumstances.

During a holiday in Norfolk, the couple were stunned when they drove past A12 road signs pointing the way to Walberswick and decided they would try to find out more about the story behind the sign.

When they returned home and made contact with parish council chairman David Webb, they were told about its history and agreed to hand it back.

Mr Newstead said: 'They came and collected it and took it off to be renovated and there it is now, in all its glory.

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'I must say, it's one of the best signs I have ever seen. It is as if it was meant to be, having it back on the Jubilee weekend.'

Mr Webb's brother Wally was responsible for the excellent work to restore the sign and organised the special Jubilee weekend unveiling.

Wally was unable to attend the event, but David Webb said: 'Mr and Mrs Newsetad didn't know it was a village sign until the were on holiday around here and they saw the signs for Walberswick.

'They made contact and told us what they had got and we said it was our sign that had been stolen many years before and they said that we must have it back.'

James Darkins, of the Walberswick Common Lands Charity, went to Kent to pick up the sign and said Mrs Newstead had a tear in her eye when she waved goodbye.

He said: 'It's lovely that they were here today with us. I think they really loved the sign and it had been a part of their lives for a long time.'

Others from the village that have helped include Adrian Church, Gareth Wilson, Nigel Fisk, Brian Tibbles, Hugh Smiley and Woody.

The restoration was carried out by Peggs of Aldeburgh and the oak post was provided by Tom Webster.

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