A FAMILY has been left brokenhearted after a callous thief dug up and stole a tree planted in memory of a popular churchman.
The 10ft tall copper beech was taken from the churchyard at St Laurence’s Parish Church, Chorley.
It was a memorial to former church warden Ed Fisher – and had been planted by his three grandchildren who are said to be very upset.
The thief struck some time after the Christmas Eve mass, which finished at midnight, and the Christmas Day morning service, which started at 9am.
Rector Martin Cox, of St Laurence’s, broke the sad news to Mr Fisher’s widow, who lives in Chorley.
Ed died last February after a sudden illness.
His grandchildren – Jordan 15, Declan, 13 and Anna, seven – decided they wanted to plant a tree in the church grounds to remember him by.
The tree was planted on Sunday, October 21, two days after Ed’s birthday.
Ed’s son John Fisher, who lives in Ainsdale, near Southport, said: “On Christmas Eve we placed some flowers there for Christmas and all seemed well, then we had a call from the rector Martin Cox explaining what had happened.
“This, as you can imagine, is very upsetting for the family especially my mother and the three grandchildren.
“I can only wonder what scum would steal things from a churchyard.
“It was more annoying than upsetting. You just don’t realise what some people do.
“To steal anything from the church grounds is beyond me, never mind stuff like that.”
John said the thief must have been well prepared as the tree was supported by two posts hammered into the ground.
Rev Cox said: “It happened overnight after the midnight service and by the time we had got here on Christmas Day it had been taken lock, stock and barrel.”
He said his reaction was “one of astonishment and distress.”
He added: “We planted the tree in memory of Ed who was a very faithful member of the church and warden here.
“It was quite distressing to see it had gone.”
Rev Cox urged the thief to return the tree, which he described as “a symbolism of life” following Ed’s death.
“It would be very important for it to be returned,” he said.
However, if it is not, it will not be replaced and the church will consider another form of memorial for Ed.
“It won’t be replaced. There will be something else in Ed’s memory,” said Rev Cox.
Ed was a dedicated member of St Laurence’s Church.
He was a member of the St Laurence Historical Society and spent many hours doing research for the church.
One project that took up a lot of his time was Pilgrim Father Myles Standish, the army captain of the Mayflower, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, and his connections to Chorley.