Heartbreak after “despicable” vandals rip lights from hospice’s memorial Christmas tree (From Bournemouth Echo)
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Heartbreak after “despicable” vandals rip lights from hospice’s memorial Christmas tree
A DESPICABLE act of vandalism has seen twinkling lights ripped from a hospice Christmas tree bearing the names of lost loved ones.
Lewis-Manning Hospice’s Tree of Lights, which stands as a remembrance for hundreds of people whose loss is felt more deeply at this time of year, has been dimmed.
Stars bearing the names of much-loved relatives and friends were found on the ground and branches ripped from the 16ft tree at Ashley Cross green.
“It’s just heart wrenching when you consider this is here in memory of people past,” said hospice fundraising manager Maria Tidy. “It’s just really sad.”
Two sets of 480 flashing lights had adorned the tree and a single strip high up was still lit yesterday morning as upset hospice staff and supporters surveyed the damage.
The tree had been in place since November 29 and a well-attended event was held to launch the Tree of Lights, attended by guests including Fiona Castle and Poole Mayor, Cllr Phil Eades, with the switch-on carried out by hospice patient Elaine Sibley.
It was sponsored by Poole Chamber of Trade and Commerce and president Lucy Cooper said: “This year’s event was the best and most well attended. It was a really lovely event.
“For someone to have done this, it’s such a sad reflection of people’s behaviour.”
The tree was supplied by Continental Landscapes and Homebase at Branksome donated the lights.
“It is so sad that the lovely tree has been damaged in such a dreadful way,” said the charity’s chief executive officer Elizabeth Purcell.
“So many people have helped in many ways to have this tree which marks hope and reflection for the whole community.”
Cllr Eades said: “I’m outraged that someone could do that. It almost defies belief.
“I feel very sorry for the people who put their memories on the tree and for Lewis-Manning staff who work so hard to try and help people come to terms with what for many will be their first Christmas without their loved ones.”
The tree with its banner explaining its purpose has been at the green for the past two years and this is the first time it has been vandalised. The police have been informed
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