Stanton: Anger at theft of memorial sign

A CLOSE-KNIT community has been left feeling angry and upset after a memorial sign in honour of a villager was stolen.

A sign reading ‘Vespa Parking Only,’ which was in memory of Peter Johnson (PJ), 42, who died in an industrial accident, has been stolen from a wall at the back of the Cock Inn pub in The Street, Stanton.

Immediately following the accident in Great Yarmouth in January last year, the sign was inside the pub, surrounded by candles, and later it was moved to a wall in the car park.

PJ, who had been a resident DJ at the pub, had loved his Vespa scooter.

Following the theft of the sign, his sister Judi Freeman said: “It was really upsetting actually. He had his Vespa moped and it was his pride and joy. He had a private number plate put on it just a few months before he died.”

She added: “It’s just a horrible thing and I’m sure it’s upset a lot of people.”

Nigel Wallace, landlord of the Cock Inn, said the pub had bought the sign as PJ had always said there was not anywhere to park his scooter.

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“I don’t care who’s got it. Just return it and put it on the doorstep of the pub. There are a lot of angry people in the village.”

He added: “It isn’t a lot of money. It was only about �20 to buy it, but it’s the memory and the significance of it at the same time that hurts.”

Mr Wallace said Chris Roberts, landlady of the Cock Inn, pulled up into the car park and spotted it had gone.

He said the sign, which is red with white writing and a white border, went missing between 5pm on Monday and 10am on Wednesday.

Mrs Freeman said: “It would be nice to get it back. Even if we bought another one it wouldn’t be the same.”

Suffolk Police is investigating the theft. Anyone who witnessed it or may know who has taken it is asked to contact Pc Sheena Tate at the St Edmundsbury Rural North SNT on 101 quoting BR/12/797 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Brothers Thomas, 26, and Daniel Hazelton, 30, from Stanton, and Adam Taylor, 28, from Rickinghall, also died in the accident at Claxton Engineering Services Limited.

Plans are progressing for a memorial of four seats around a central sculpture in Stanton, and in Rickinghall there will be two benches, three trees and a plaque.

This is thanks to overwhelming support for the Four Friends Memorial Fund, which was launched by the East Anglian Daily Times in liaison with the men’s families.

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