A HIT-AND-RUN driver caused extensive damage at a historic cemetery.
Only the remains of a pillar were left at the New Lane entrance of the Havant Dissenters’ Cemetery, along with yellow paint marks, a wing mirror and plastic trim.
It comes as the Friends of Havant Cemeteries received £9,900 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to enhance cemeteries in the area.
Now work to this one will have to be postponed.
Christopher Evans, chairman of the FHC, said: ‘A resident made the discovery after being awoken by a loud bang at about 6.30am last Friday.
‘The cemetery wall and another pillar has been damaged – we’re disappointed at what’s happened.
‘Because of the size of the wing mirror and the plastic trim we think this was done by a lorry.
‘There’s a big scrape mark along the wall and the damage runs across 20 to 30ft of it, including the two pillars.
‘The driver must have been driving well over to one side of the road for this to have happened.’
FHC plans to use the funding to publicise the heritage of local cemeteries and install new gates at the Dissenters’ Cemetery, one of which was previously stolen.
It will also install an information board and a bench.
Mr Evans added: ‘We’ll now have to wait for the United Reformed Church, which is responsible for the cemetery, to have the pillars repaired before we start any work.
‘The plans are designed to make the area more welcoming, and encourage residents and visitors alike to explore Havant cemeteries, which provide a wealth of social history and wildlife.’
The group hopes the works will change attitudes and draw attention to ‘a historically important area now being sensitively managed’.
An open day in conjunction with The Spring Arts and Heritage Centre, to invite people into the cemetery for guided walks, a butterfly count and photography sessions, will be held.
FHC secretary Penny Munday said: ‘The cost of repairs ought to be covered by the driver’s insurance if they can be found.’
Anyone with information about the incident can call police on 101, quoting 44170177383.