Widow heart-broken after memorial theft

Anne Simpson at the site in Druridge Bay County Park where a tree was planted in memory of her husband.
Anne Simpson at the site in Druridge Bay County Park where a tree was planted in memory of her husband.

A devastated widow has hit out at ‘scumbag’ thieves who stole a treasured memorial to her late husband.

And in a further bitter blow, heart-broken Anne Simpson made the sickening discovery last Thursday – the day of the couple’s 38th wedding anniversary.

The 61-year-old has been left ‘gutted’ after callous yobs pinched a tree and plaque, which had been planted in memory of her beloved husband Brian, 63.

Brian died in March 2012 after suffering a stroke, and the tributes were placed by a bench overlooking the picturesque Ladyburn Lake, at Druridge Bay Country Park.

It was Brian’s favourite spot.

Brian, known as Dixie, used to walk to the beautiful wildlife haven on a daily basis, meeting friends and ‘putting the world to rights’.

Distraught Anne, who is a mother of two and grandmother of three, said: “These people are absolute scumbags and I don’t know why they have done this.

“Last Thursday was our wedding anniversary and I went down to put some flowers beside the tree.

“Then, low and behold, the tree, its stake and the plaque had been pinched, I was so gutted.”

While the beauty spot was always special to Brian, it has taken on extra significance for his wife, who would take comfort from visiting the area and remembering old times.

“My husband was cremated, so we bought the tree in his memory. I used to go down and talk to the tree and it brought me a great deal of comfort.

“I got a rescue dog, called Alfie, about a year ago and I would sit beside the tree and tell Brian about him.”

The tree, a copper beech, was planted by Druridge Bay wardens shortly after Brian’s death.

After making the shocking discovery last week, Anne said: “I went round to the wardens at the park and they were flabbergasted at what had happened.”

Park wardens have agreed to plant another tree in memory of Brian, but because of the time of year, it cannot be done until February at the earliest.

Anne will be purchasing another plaque.

But she admits that, following the theft, Christmas will be even harder this year.

“I will still go down and sit on the seat, but it won’t be the same without the tree,” she said.