Family shocked after memorial tree vandalised in Devon

The family say weed killer was poured into the soil where the memorial tree was planted. Credit: Daniel Snow

A grieving family have been left shocked after a tree planted in memory of their grandmother was targeted by vandals - less than 48 hours after being planted.

On Monday (13 February) Daniel Snow and his parents planted the tree and a plaque with permission of Torridge District Council, in memory of Jean Williams who passed away aged 78.

But yesterday they were told by the council that the tree planted in Irsha Street, Appledore had been heavily damaged.

The family from Liverpool, chose the location after enjoying many holiday trips to Appledore with Jean over the years.

Jean Williams, fourth from right, pictured with her family including Daniel Snow pictured next to her, during a visit to Appledore. Credit: Daniel Snow

Daniel said: "We've been coming to Devon for over 25 years, in particular to Appledore and Westward Ho! and thought it would be a lovely idea to honour my grandmother's memory and give our very large family a spot to remember her and our happy times in North Devon.

"However, less than 48 hours after the tree, which we paid for, was planted a local resident took it upon themselves to pour weed killer around the base and attack the tree with other unknown chemicals.

"We think weed killer was used because of the residue that was left. The trunk of the tree was also cut. They really did try to damage it."

The damage to the trunk of the tree. Credit: Daniel Snow

He added: "It happened at some point last night (February 15) and we don't know why.

"When I got the call from the council I was in the middle of emailing them to say thank you as the spot they chose and everything else had been perfect.

"The person who rang was very upset and said she had never had to deal with anything like this before. For us, it was such a shock. It's very upsetting and we are angry.

"Appledore has nothing but good memories for us but this has slightly tarnished it and the weekend we had to come down and do the tree planting."

Jean Williams passed away on February 15, 2020. Credit: Daniel Snow

The family says they have received support from the council and also locals who have heard about the vandalism.

Daniel said: "The council has been fantastic, as has the local support online on the local Appledore Facebook page.

"The council is trying to do all it can to revive the tree and make sure it does not die."

The plaque put at the base of the tree reads: "In loving memory of Jean Williams, 1941 to 2020, with love from your family and friends. Bye for now."

The last line refers to the final greeting Jean would say when she said goodbye to people.

Sean Kearney, head of Communities and Place at Torridge District Council, said: “We are aware that the recently planted memorial tree in Irsha Street, Appledore, would appear to have been deliberately vandalised.

"We are disappointed that this act of criminal damage has occurred and have reported the matter to the local police for further investigation.

"We are not able to comment further while the matter is looked into.”