THIEVES who stole shrubs from a garden commemorating fallen soldiers have no respect, say the volunteers behind the memorial.
Four members of Witney’s Trefoil Guild, a branch of Girl Guiding, finished planting the garden at Tower Hill Cemetery last month to mark this year’s centenaries of both of the outbreak of the First World War and the start of Girl Guiding.
But they returned to the memorial garden on Friday, only to find two of the six euonymus shrubs, worth £10 each, had been stolen.
Denise Parrott, assistant division commissioner for the Windrush area Girl Guides, said: “We’re angry and upset because we spent a lot of time and money to make it look nice for the benefit of people who walk on the footpath or visit the cemetery.
“We thought it was special for the centenaries of Girl Guiding and the First World War, but they’ve left a big hole in the ground.
“I’m saddened that we did something to remind people that there has been Girl Guiding for 100 years and that people gave their lives in the war, but some people have no respect or conscience.
“There are some mindless people who feel it’s necessary to do something like that.
“We have a plaque which explains why we’ve made the garden, so there’s no excuse for not know what it is and what it’s for.”
The planting was also part of Witney’s bid in this year’s Britain in Bloom awards.
Mrs Parrott, 66, a part-time office administrator who also volunteers for St Peter and St Paul’s Church in Church Hanborough, funded it using a £100 cash prize given by the Independent Order of Foresters for being volunteer of the month.
Witney Town Council also put up £75 for the work.
The bed included a trefoil – the Girl Guiding badge – made up of shrubs and surrounded by red flowers to symbolise the war.
Mrs Parrott, who lives in Long Hanborough, said that she had reported the theft to Thames Valley Police.
She added: “I don’t think it’s vandalism because they haven’t just pulled them out and chucked them about.
“There’s no signs whatsoever of these missing plants anywhere. I think someone has taken them out carefully and put them in their own garden.”
Witney Town Council is now considering whether to replace the remaining and stolen shrubs with cheaper plants, but return the original ones for the Britain in Bloom judging on July 21.
Chrissie Curry, who chairs the Witney in Bloom committee, said she was “absolutely appalled” by the theft.
She said: “It was such a pretty bed and they worked so hard to do it – what pleasure can people get out of ruining something that others have worked hard to make?
“I really despair because the mindsets of these people is quite beyond comprehension.”
Police spokeswoman Connie Primmer urged anyone with information about the theft, which happened between 5.30pm on Thursday, June 5, and 3pm on Friday, June 6, to call them on 101.
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