Sickening attack on Sunderland graves

Funeral director Tony Clarke at his mother's grave Bishopwearmouth Cemetary, which has been targetted by vandals.
Funeral director Tony Clarke at his mother's grave Bishopwearmouth Cemetary, which has been targetted by vandals.
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A FUNERAL director has been left devastated after his parents’ grave was vandalised in a sickening attack.

Tony Clarke was shocked after relatives and friends told him of the damage to the memorial to his mum Marjorie and dad Henry, in Bishopwearmouth Cemetery, Chester Road.

The 47-year-old was too upset to visit the grave on Mother’s Day, one of the few times a year he feels comfortable going to the graveside.

Mr Clarke’s friend Judith Riddell has since helped to clean up the damage, but lettering on the grave has now faded.

“My family rang me on Friday to say not to go up because the grave had been damaged,” said Mr Clarke.

“Something has been put on it which has damaged it.

“My friends have tried to clean it up and have been trying to help with getting it off.

“I only go to visit on special occasions like birthdays and Christmas.

“I couldn’t go down on Sunday. I had to get some flowers and put them in a vase instead.”

Mr Clarke, whose business is in Ormonde Street, has called for increased security at the cemetery.

Last week the Echo reported how widow Caroline Strand was upset, after drivers repeatedly reversed over her husband Allan’s grave.

“There needs to be some form of security put in place,” said Mr Clarke.

“These places are not playgrounds. They are for people’s loved ones to rest.”

Mr Clarke, of High Barnes, said he intends to petition for improved security.

“People pay a lot of money to have their loves ones here and they should be protected.”

Sunderland Council support services co-ordinator Martin Lancaster said: “We will not tolerate antisocial behaviour in any of our cemeteries and work closely with partners including the police to take action to stop it occurring whenever we can.

“If Mr Clarke or any other member of the public has any concerns, we are always available to talk to them directly on 520 5555 so we can discuss how they can be addressed.

“There are regular security patrols in Bishopwearmouth Cemetery, and we welcome any help that people like Mr Clarke can provide in bringing any problems to our immediate attention.”

A spokeswoman for Northumbria Police said: “We received a report on Thursday, March 31, that a headstone had been damaged at Bishopwearmouth Cemetery in Chester Road.

“Officers are carrying out inquiries in order to establish what has happened.”

Anyone with information should call 03456 043 043.