Vandalised memorial bench causes anger

THE daughter of a woman who dedicated her life to the guiding movement has spoken of her “anger and disgust” towards vandals who uprooted a bench erected in her mother’s memory at the picturesque Bruntis Loch in Kirroughtree Forest.

Elizabeth Sykes was informed that the bench had been broken from its base and thrown into the pretty loch by what could only have been vandals, given the force required to move it.

Elizabeth’s mum, Nessie Sykes, dedicated much of her time to the Guiding movement in the area and took her Brownies and Guides to Bruntis on many occasions. Upon her death in 1994, it was arranged for the bench to be situated overlooking the remote water in the Galloway Forest Park, a spot she adored.

Elizabeth said: “I feel anger and disgust at the mindless vandals. They did this with no thought or regard for what they were doing.

“My mother was held in high regard by the Brownies, Guides and Guiders locally, and in recognition of this they paid for a bench to be situated at Bruntis Loch. This was a favourite spot for my mother to undertake activities with Brownies and Guides when they stayed at the nearby Stronord Outdoor Centre.”

Elizabeth contacted the Forestry Commission who acted fast to have the bench replaced.

She said: “Mr Willie Kerr advised me that he would look into the matter and get back to me with details of what had happened. He later advised that the bench had disappeared as a result of vandalism. However, within a very short time, he had arranged for a replacement bench to be installed, and the original plaque, which had been recovered, to be attached to it.

“I would like to express my sincere thanks to Mr Kerr and the Forestry Commission for their kind and speedy assistance in this matter. I have been up to Bruntis Loch and looked at the bench, and it enjoys the same panoramic view as the original.

“But my message to the mindless vandals would be this - spare a thought for the many people you offended by your actions. I wish you had known my mother, and had been given the opportunity to share the values under which she lived her life. That may have made you a better person, or people, and more considerate of others.”

The peaceful setting of Bruntis Loch has attracted vandalism before, when one of the region’s famous 7Stanes was targeted in May 2009.

The 1.75 tonne pink quartz Gem Stone, named to highlight the forest as a ‘hidden gem’ and also to link it to the nearby Creetown Gem Rock Museum, was pushed from its granite base