Dad’s disgust at ‘toe-rags’ who stole from family graves at Sunderland cemetery

Raymond Barwick with Christmas flowers similar to those stolen from his wife's and family graves at Bishopwearmouth Cemetery.
Raymond Barwick with Christmas flowers similar to those stolen from his wife's and family graves at Bishopwearmouth Cemetery.
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A widower today spoke of his anger after festive flowers were taken from the graves of his wife and other family members.

Raymond Barwick had placed the decorations in pots in front of his late wife Irene’s grave in Bishopwearmouth Cemetery, off Hylton Road, last Friday.

Irene, who had been diagnosed with MS in the 1980s and confined to a wheelchair for much of her later life, died in June 2012, aged 64.

To his horror, son Mark visited the site on Sunday to discover that the items which his dad left had gone, with just a few twigs remaining. Holly sprigs also left on the graves of Raymond’s parents Margaret and George and his sister Mary, have also been swiped by heartless thieves.

The grave site is also where the ashes of Raymond’s brother Kenneth, who died a number of months ago, are due to be left in the near future.

Despite the wet and windy weather from Storm Desmond that affected the area over the weekend, other similar items on other graves were still in place.

“I must’ve spent more than £25 on the batch of flowers and holly for the graves,” said Raymond, 68, of Lambton, in Washington, who worships at St John’s Evangelical Church in Shiney Row.

“Now there are only a couple of sprigs of holly lying around on the grass nearby.

“Some people might think it’s because of the weather, but all of the pots that I put these things in were empty while the other pots still have things in.”

Members of the Barwick family visit the graves ‘every couple of weeks’ to pay their respects.

Mr Barwick, who used to work at the Pyrex glass-making plant in Pallion before retirement, also left items at the grave of his younger sister Lorna, but they have not been taken.

“What’s happened is upsetting and I can’t believe it,” said Raymond.

“It’s difficult to find out who’s done it because the cemetery is such a big area, but these are just toe-rags. They have no respect. But it won’t stop me from putting these things down, not at all.

“I’ve already bought some more sprigs, but I’ll be leaving it a few days before putting them into the baskets.”

Mark, 38, has also been left disheartened by the incident.

“I came down the other day and saw other flowers where there, but ours had been taken,” said Mark.

“Even though it has been windy these things were wedged into place, so somebody must have taken them.

“We try to keep the place looking nice in the summer and especially at Christmas.

“We normally lay wreaths, but because of what’s happened they are bare now, and that’s not right.”