Wigan family's anguish at bench damage
The mum of a three-year-old Wigan girl who died from a rare genetic disease has said she feels like a piece of her daughter has been taken after a plaque went missing from her memorial bench.
Ella Louise Mather, who was born with the ultra-rare degenerative condition gm-1 gangliosidosis, lost her brave battle shortly after Christmas in 2009.
Following her death, the family of Michelle Mather - Ella’s mum - clubbed together to buy a dedicated bench in the walled gardens at Haigh Hall.
But they have now been hit with a devastating blow after discovering that the back of the bench was missing, along with Ella’s plaque.
In a public appeal Michelle said: “It’s a place our family and friends visit regularly to remember her by and for everyone to enjoy.
“It’s very well kept and recently had been repainted for her anniversary, no loose bolts so it won’t just fall apart.
“I took my children to visit it and we found it with the back and plaque missing. I am absolutely gutted.”
After contacting Haigh park, Michelle was told that when wardens saw the bench the plaque had “vanished”.
The council, which owns the country park, has said that they will help Michelle with any replacement costs.
A spokesperson for Haigh Woodland Park said: “We are supporting the family following this incident and are looking at options to repair the damage. We will be liaising with the family at every step of the way.
“Hopefully, this can be sorted quickly so we can re-instate this loving memorial to Ella as soon as possible.”
Michelle has said she is grateful to staff at the country park who have been “brilliant” throughout the incident.
“I must stress Haigh Hall have been amazing we can’t praise them enough. We have been advised by dog walkers and staff who work at Haigh Hall that there was an additional incident in Haigh Hall at Sunday teatime including three youths.
“We are trying to find out if the two incidents are related. We have spoken to the police and they are dealing with it and that’s all we know.
“We just ask the public to keep their eyes peeled as we feel a little piece of our daughter has been taken and any information people may have to contact Haigh Hall or the police.”
Wiganers have reacted with their usual generosity, with many offering to help fund a replacement bench and plaque for the devastated family.