Thieves ransack Sunderland cancer victim’s memorial garden

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THIEVES raided and ransacked a memorial garden set up in memory of a cancer victim.

Today, the heartbroken sister of Anne Stamp told how she broke down in tears after learning vandals had stolen personal mementoes.

Sara Smith, 45, said: “These were things of no value to anyone, but they meant the world to us. How could anyone do this?”

The garden, part of the Hendon Community Allotment site, was set up by family and friends after Anne died from cancer last July, aged 41.

Special items which reminded Sara of her sister were placed at the site.

They included ceramic angels which Anne collected, as well as souvenirs from their last holiday together in Sri Lanka.

“Every time we visited the garden, we felt like a part of Anne was still with us in that special place, but that’s been ruined now,” said Sara. “The angels have gone, the things that were special to us have gone.”

The thieves took everything they could, right down to the coffee and teabags provided for visitors.

The sisters grew up in Hendon, with parents Kenneth and Anne, both 66.

They soon became well known across Sunderland as they would often belly dance together after Sara started her own business, Belly Dance Moves.

But after battling cervical cancer, then skin cancer, Anne died on July 2.

Her grieving family later set up the Annie’s Dream in her memory.

A garden in the corner of Hendon Community Allotment was then established in Anne’s name, as the sisters would often go to the Corporation Road site and dance.

Thieves struck sometime between 4pm on Sunday and 9am on Monday.

As well as Anne’s items, they also took tools, plants, seeds, garden furniture and watering cans. Remnants of cannabis joints were also found on the ground.

“I cried when I saw what they’d done,” said Sara. “This is somewhere for the community to be proud of, so why steal from it?”

However, people from across Hendon have pulled together to replace the things taken.

A spokesman for Northumbria Police said: “A number of items were stolen from the allotments on Corporation Road in Sunderland. Inquiries into this matter are continuing.”

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