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By Laura Maltby Thursday 13 December 2012 Updated: 13/12 07:59
THE STATUE on the grave of Marie Corelli has been damaged beyond repair in a 'repugnant' act of vandalism.
Yobs rampaged through Stratford Cemetery leaving a trail of destruction which will cost some £100,000 to repair. The mindless act of destruction at the Evesham Road cemetery took place in the early hours of Saturday morning (December 8).
Eleven memorials were targeted in the old section of the cemetery, including that belonging to the Victorian novelist Marie Corelli, who lived her later years in Stratford, and who fought hard to preserve the town's 17th century buildings.
A caretaker recovered a cardboard box and beer bottles from the chapel where it is believed people had been drinking during the night.
Stratford Town Council, which cares for the cemetery, are now set to look at possibly increasing security measures at the cemetery.
Mayor Keith Lloyd, said: “I am shocked, saddened and appalled at this disgusting act of vandalism of which has been committed in our special town’s place of rest. It is so repugnant, it makes you sick to your stomach.
“The offenders who have desecrated these graves must be caught, brought to justice and punished accordingly. They should be named and shamed for the horrific and immoral crime they have committed, which has offended and hurt all residents of this town.
“It is my intention to offer a reward, which I hope will encourage people to come forward to enable the police find the people who have caused this damage.”
“Although our town’s family tombstones have been overturned – I will leave no stone unturned until we find these despicable people.”
Police will be stepping up our patrols in and around the area following the attack which happened around 4am.
Anyone who can help police with their inquires should call Sgt Richard Thomas on 01789 444503.
The first and only municipal cemetery in Stratford was laid out in 1881 - at a time when the the parish churchyard at Holy Trinity was almost full - and has always been managed to provide a dignified resting place for townspeople.
In 1939 Stratford Borough Council set aside land specifically for service war burials, which are now within the care of the Commonwealth War Grave Commission. Most of the 177 buried at the cemetery were members of the Commonwealth Air forces, particularly Canadians attached to No. 22 Operational Training Unit based at Wellesbourne.
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