Lost and found – missing plaque honouring orphans killed in World War Two is rediscovered

Coun Jeff Milburn at Oakleigh Garden School
Coun Jeff Milburn at Oakleigh Garden School
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VILLAGERS are breathing a sigh of relief after a missing commemorative sign was found.

The Echo reported how a blue plaque went missing from Oakleigh Gardens School, in Cleadon Village, in August.

It was put up in 1999 in memory of the children who used to live in the building when it was Cleadon Cottage Homes – which housed orphans or youngsters needing care.

Many of the boys and girls from the homes went on to serve in the Second World War, and the sign was to honour them.

The building stopped being used as a school in July, and is due to be demolished.

Cleadon Village History Society, which paid £450 for the plaque, pleaded for its return following its disappearance.

But it was in safe hands all along, after being removed by a member of staff at the school before it closed and was handed over to the headteacher.

The 24-inch aluminium plaque was on the last remaining building on the site, Woodbine Cottage, which is just inside the gate in Sunniside Lane.

It was unveiled in 1999 by Edward Barber.

He lived at the cottages between 1923 and 1938, before joining the Royal Navy and eventually settling in Australia.

It reads: “These homes were built to house, educate and provide vocational training for boys and girls who were orphaned or needing care.”

History Society secretary Brian Bage said: “It seems like it has been found. Now we are just waiting for its return.”

Cleadon ward councillor Jeff Milburn said: “We were all concerned when it went missing, but it seems it was taken with the best of intentions.

“It was removed to keep it safe which was the right thing to do.

“At least now we know where it is and it is safe with the council waiting to be returned.”

Membership to Cleadon Village History Society is open to everyone.

Meetings take place in Cleadon Village Methodist Church Sunderland Road, every Tuesday at 7pm.