Gang of thieves take labour of love bench

Volunteers at the Willow Garden Project, Fleetwood work on the bench before it was stolen and (below) trustee Paula Ireland, Chris Case and Sean Aylward.
Volunteers at the Willow Garden Project, Fleetwood work on the bench before it was stolen and (below) trustee Paula Ireland, Chris Case and Sean Aylward.
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A GROUP for disabled people has been left devastated after callous thieves stole a bench which they had spent hours creating.

Clients of the Willow Garden Project worked long hours on the solid wooden seat for their allotment at Fleetwood Cricket Club.

At the spot where a bench was stolen from the Willow Garden Project in Fleetwood. From left: trustee Paula Ireland, Chris Case and Sean Aylward.

At the spot where a bench was stolen from the Willow Garden Project in Fleetwood. From left: trustee Paula Ireland, Chris Case and Sean Aylward.

But they were left heartbroken when they discovered someone had stolen their labour of love.

Project trustee Pamela Laird said: “Everyone has been devastated by this.

“Our volunteers and service users have been working hard finishing it off and rubbing it down – they have spent hours and hours on it.

“It was 6ft long and weighed an absolute ton. It would have taken three or four people to carry it so it’s obviously been carted off in a van – they can’t just have walked off with it.

“It wasn’t like any other bench you can get.

“It was very distinctive so if anyone sees it they will be able to recognise it. It was almost finished and we were going to carve names on the back of those who had worked on it and it would have been there forever.

Another trustee, Paula Ireland, said it had been intended to make the bench the centre piece of the project.

She added: “We hid it behind some bushes because we thought it would be out of sight, but someone has clearly spotted it.

“It’s very disappointing.”

The bench was created at a workshop run by the environmental Middlewood Trust at Wray, near Lancaster, and was brought back to Fleetwood to be completed.

The Willow Garden Project was launched at the beginning of the year and has already made great strides.

They have recently gained a £10,000 grant from the Health Lottery to enable them to build a cabin.

The project also has won money from the Sunday People to enable development of their growing area to the rear of the cricket club pavilion.

The project’s goal is for those with physical or mental disabilities to benefit from outdoor activity.

There are plans for a therapeutic sensory garden with aromatic herbs, a water feature and even a music and lights facility as well as a nature area which local school children could visit.

A police spokesman said: “This was a terrible crime against an organisation that does good in the community.

“We would urge anyone with knowledge of this crime or the whereabouts of the bench to contact us immediately.”

Anyone with information can call Lancashire Police on 101.

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