Worried families’ grave fears

The grave of Brian Rothwell which has been damaged by vandals
The grave of Brian Rothwell which has been damaged by vandals

Worried families have been flocking to local cemeteries to check their loved ones’ graves after last week’s story about damage caused by yobs.

In a report in the Observer, officers appealed for information after the resting places of a young soldier and a baby were damaged and burnt at Gidlow Cemetery.

Both had been subject to the disgraceful behaviour in the past and, sadly, since the story went public more people have come forward to say the same has happened to the graves of their loved ones.

Kelly Rutter read about the incidents on Facebook over the weekend and recognised one of the targeted plots as being where her grandfather Brian Rothwell’s ashes had been buried 15 years ago.

She rushed up to the cemetery with her family and was devastated to see the damage that had been caused.

“It was awful. It was just all black because it had been burnt,” said Kelly, from Orrell.

“Statues and ornaments were all broken, it really was quite shocking.

“I don’t know if this has been done at the same time as the others but something needs to be done.

“I’m just totally disgusted by it all, having to watch my grandmother be so upset was awful.

“When we were there a lot of other families were checking as well.

“Someone needs to take responsibility for it.”

A Facebook group called “Get CCTV cameras Installed around Gidlow Cemetery” has also been set up.

Other people have also posted photos of their loved ones’ graves that have been damaged and burnt.

One woman wrote about her brother’s grave being targeted.

She said: “There have been numerous incidents where we have had flowers, personal items and mementoes stolen from him including his dog tags and other army related memorabilia.

“The last two years have been the most traumatic and the worst damage has been inflicted around the same time of year (around armed forces day - could just be coincidental).

“It’s sickening to think that these ‘people’ are getting away with such disgusting acts and yet nothing ever gets done about it!”

Other people also voiced their anger.

Christine Barbour-Moore wrote: “As an ex special constable - get in touch with Chief Supt Shaun O’Donnellan at Wigan Police station.

“Ask if Specials can patrol in uniform or plain clothes in Gidlow Cemetery. In the past, I have undertaken that sort of job.

“Specials are a useful weapon to catch these probably under-age drinking scum. Also in the local papers ask the question ‘Do you know where your children are tonight?’.

“I myself am prepared to do any ‘watching’ particularly on a Friday night - if anybody wants to organise a rota - I know it would be temporary but better than nothing.”

Lyndsey Stone added: “The damage isn’t only about the expense of replacing damaged items, it’s about the emotional pain that they have to endure time and time again.”

Anyone with information is asked to call the police on 101 or the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.