Generous donation of memorial tree means vandals don’t get the last word

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Bob Shatwell and his wife Lesley, a Licensed Lay Minister at the church, with the newly planted tree ()

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A GENEROUS donation of a tree in memory of two much-loved parishioners of St Mark’s Church, Upper Hale, has replaced one cut down by vandals last month.

The new tree was donated by Farnham woman Maryanne Ryan and was planted in the pouring rain by churchwarden Bob Shatwell.

Mr Shatwell said: “When I got to the church on January 22 and saw what had happened I was both horrified and saddened by this demonstration of mindless vandalism. The buddleia by the entrance had been cut down.

“However, this paled into insignificance when I saw what had happened to the flowering cherry planted a few years ago in memory of a parishioner’s parents.

“This was neatly sawn off level with its supporting stake. When it blossomed in springtime, it was a beautiful tree.

“We later found two saws abandoned in the hedge. I would guess they had been stolen from a building site and ‘played with’ in our churchyard before the miscreants got bored with them.

“We publicised this on Facebook. People rallied round and Maryanne Ryan offered to pay for a new sapling. We planted this in the pouring rain, a few metres from the despoiled tree.

“If there is any moral I can draw from this episode, it’s that for every mindless vandal, there seem to be a plethora of supporting folk. The old tree is still there. I have a hope that something may sprout from the remains of the trunk.”

The original tree was sawn off some time around January 21.

Anyone who saw anything suspicious or has any information is asked to contact Surrey Police quoting reference number 45210007113.

This can be done via webchat on surrey.police.uk, online on www.surrey.police.uk/ro/report/ocr/af/how-to-report-a-crime/ or by calling 101. Information can also be passed on anonymously via the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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