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Wigan graves defiled by thieves and vandals

The personalised pot was chosen by Thomas 8 and Alexia 4 for their mum's best friend
The personalised pot was chosen by Thomas 8 and Alexia 4 for their mum's best friend

A Wigan mum is devastated after the ornament chosen by her young children for her best friend’s graveside was stolen.

Gemma Metcalfe, 31, said she “cannot believe” anyone would take the ornament picked out by her two children Thomas, eight, and Alexia, four, for the woman dubbed “a second mum”.

Amanda Gerrard (left) died in March this year

Amanda Gerrard (left) died in March this year

The mum-of-two from Hindley explained how her best friend Amanda Gerrard, 44, died in March this year just days after losing her mum.

“Her death had a massive effect on Thomas and Alexia,” said Gemma. “She was my best friend. Whenever she was off work they were over there with her.

“That’s how close we all were. She was like a second mum to them.

“Thomas would talk about her at school and when people asked ‘who’s Amanda?’ he would say, ‘she’s my best friend.”

To help the family grieve, Gemma let the children choose a pot to decorate Amanda’s grave in Westwood Cemetery, Ince.

Just weeks later, when Amanda’s relatives went to visit her burial site, they noticed that the tribute had gone.

“I don’t understand how anyone could take it,” said Gemma. “My children are still grieving for her. I’m more upset for them.

“I have looked everywhere, I even looked in the cemetery bin but it has definitely gone.

“The only thing it is worth is its sentimental value. I just don’t know why anyone would take it.”

Gemma has also had a memorial planter installed in her Hindley home by Amanda’s uncle so that Thomas and Alexia can sit and remember her in their own back garden.

Another Wigan mum also contacted the Post after visiting her son’s grave in Gidlow Cemetery on Monday to find it had been set on fire.

The woman who wished to remain anonymous, said she was heartbroken after arriving at her 25-year-old son’s grave on the morning of her birthday, to find that it had been torched.

“I had to take everything off his grave,” she said. “My hands were just black. It was absolutely devastating.

“I just had to come away from there.”

Penny McGinty assistant director of corporate contracts and assets at Wigan Council said: “It’s extremely sad to hear that our local cemeteries have been vandalised in this way and had items stolen, which had been placed there by loved ones.

“We would advise when property is stolen from a graveside to report this to the police to ensure they can investigate it as a criminal act. When we are informed of issues like this can start to build a picture of potential issues on site and liaise with police to assess what actions can be done.

“We were made aware of the fire at Douglas yesterday and we are looking into this. The police are working closely with the family in an attempt to identify the perpetrator.

“As part of The Deal we encourage regular visitors to the cemetery to join our cemetery watch, to be our ‘eyes and ears’ on cemetery sites and report any suspicious back to us.