THE family of a young man who died of cancer have been left devastated after his memorial tree was cut down – for the second time.
Andrew Bird lost his battle with cancer in 1995 and a crab apple tree was planted in Warblington Cemetery, Havant, in his memory.
But last week his mother Valerie Bird, of Manor Close, Havant, was shocked to discover someone had taken an axe to it, leaving just a stump.
The 76-year-old said: ‘In 2009, someone chopped all the branches from this mature crab apple tree.
‘At the time the sextons put up notices to notify the public that it was an offence to cut down trees.
‘We put a notice on the tree to inform anyone passing of the distress it had caused us.
I felt completely shattered when I saw it. It actually stopped me in my tracks.Valerie Bird
‘On Sunday I went down to the tree, as I do regularly, to find that it had happened again. We just cannot understand why anyone would do something like this. It was between 15ft and 20ft and may even have taken two people.
‘It would not have been easy. The branches are very heavy and they were all dragged and tossed over the fence.
‘I felt completely shattered when I saw it. It actually stopped me in my tracks.
‘It caused so much pain last time, we never thought it would happen again.’
Andrew died aged 33 after a battle with lung cancer.
A highly intelligent man, he worked in IT but his passion was music and he was in local bands.
He married his fiancee, Alison. just hours before he died, in St Wilfrid’s Hospice, Chichester.
His ashes were scattered on the spot where the tree was planted and there is a plaque next to it.
There are other trees close by, among the gravestones, which were of a similar maturity and height but they were not touched.
Mrs Bird has confirmed with cemetery staff they did not chop it down.
And because the cemetery is usually busy she believes it may have been done overnight to avoid the culprits being challenged.
Police are unable to investigate as there is no evidence.
Anyone with information should contact Havant Cemetery Service on (023) 9244 6425.