A CELEBRATION of Haigh Hall’s contribution to the First World War was marred by an opportunist thief who stole a precious piece of memorabilia.
Friends of Haigh Country Park had organised a week of activities and an exhibition to highlight the fact that Haigh Hall was used as a hospital between 1914 and 1916.
As part of the event, members had borrowed various artefacts from the Imperial War Museum which were on display.
However, during an event on Sunday, someone stole a decorated bronze box which was issued on behalf of Princess Mary, with a Christmas card and photo to all soldiers and sailors in 1914.
Friends chairman John Hulme said: “Everyone was outside as we unveiled a plaque and someone must have slipped in and taken it.
“We had an idea who it was as we had to remove them from the premises, but then they slipped back in.
“It has put a massive downer on the whole thing, as it was such a good day and was a sad end to a great week of celebration.
“I hope the police get whoever has stolen this box so we can get it back. I am not sure what it is worth, but we will need to compensate the museum.”
As part of the World War One display, there were various activities going on over the week.
John added: “We had all sorts of artefacts from the era, from local residents and a few things on loan from the Imperial War Museum. We also had a World War One clearance station. The exhibition was mostly about Haigh Hall as it was used as a hospital to look after Belgian soldiers.
“We also highlighted what Lord Crawford did at Haigh Hall during the war.
“We thought it was a fitting commemoration of the World Ward One era in Wigan as Haigh Hall had never been recognised for its part.
“We also commissioned an information plinth, which cost £2,000 and we paid for ourselves by fund-raising and money from the crazy golf.”
A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police confirmed that the item had been reported missing and that enquiries were ongoing, with no arrests yet made.