Town's fury at theft of statue

By Sarah ChambersRESIDENTS have expressed outrage at the theft of a well-loved town landmark - and vowed to replace it.Snooks the town doctor's dog was immortalised in a bronze memorial statue which took pride of place near Aldeburgh seafront and the model yacht pond.

By Sarah Chambers

RESIDENTS have expressed outrage at the theft of a well-loved town landmark - and vowed to replace it.

Snooks the town doctor's dog was immortalised in a bronze memorial statue which took pride of place near Aldeburgh seafront and the model yacht pond.

The well-loved pet, who had a tendency to eat pebbles and found himself under the surgeon's knife for his unusual habit, was a familiar sight around the town.

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He would follow his master, Dr Robin Acheson, as he made his calls on various patients throughout the area. Often he would wander off alone and could be seen at various parts of the town.

But thieves stole the famous 2ft statue of Snooks between 5pm on Wednesday and 10.45am on Thursday, leaving an empty plinth.

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Dr Robin Acheson cared for the community from 1931 to 1959, while his wife Nora, also a doctor, carried on as GP after his death until she died in 1981.

The statue of Snooks was originally installed in Dr Acheson's honour, with his wife's name added later, and was unveiled in 1961 by their grandchildren.

It has featured in postcards, as well as articles on the town, and generations of children have been held up by their parents so they could pat his nose, to the point where it was said to be wearing away.

The doctors' only daughter, Patricia Thornton, who now lives on the Isle of Man, said: “I think it's rather sad that people waste their time on such vandalism and I hope it will be returned safely soon. We are all very sorry that this has happened.

“It's a part of our family. The children, who are now more than grown-up, were the ones who unveiled it.”

Snooks got his name because the family used to eat tinned snook from Africa during the war, she added.

Town clerk Andrew Harris said: “I'm getting phone call after phone call. It means an awful lot to a lot of people. It certainly has hit a nerve, I have had people in tears on this.”

The theft will be discussed by Aldeburgh Town Council on Monday and Mr Harris said the general feeling was it would be replaced by public subscription.

Maggie Boswell said her grandmother Nancy Cooksey, from Thorpeness, had paid for the statue.

“My grandparents they were so fond of them, they paid for the dog to be sculpted,” she said.

“In fact, they were very good family friends to such an extent that when I got married in Tehran, Dr Nora came out with my mother and sister to my wedding.”

She recalled the statue with affection: “It went green, presumably from the salt, and the end of his nose was worn away because all the children had stroked it.

“I could not believe the theft first of all and I was absolutely angry that anybody could do this. It was such a central part of the town. The children all know it. They all go and look for it.”

Town mayor Felicity Bromage said anyone who had been in Aldeburgh long enough had known the Achesons.

“I have had a lot of phone calls. People are more than willing to subscribe to a new one. It's affected everybody, it has hit so many of us personally. It's such a feature of the town.

“I knew both of the Achesons. They were a wonderful couple. They were so involved with the town and the people of the town.”

Dr Ian Tait, a retired Aldeburgh GP, said: “I think it's tragic really that a very personal memorial that people have looked after and honoured for 50 years or something should suddenly be taken like this and personally I find it very upsetting because I remember the Achesons with great affection.”

He particularly remembered Dr Nora Acheson, who was one of only three people - including Benjamin Britten - to be given the freedom of the town.

“She became a freeman of the town of Aldeburgh before she died and she was greatly honoured. It's very, very sad,” added Dr Tait.

Dawn Long, from Bury St Edmunds, a frequent visitor to the town since her teens and on a trip there yesterday was horrified at the theft.

“I think it's horrific. I really do. It's a great attraction. When people are having their coffee at the kiosk here, lots of people stand and read it. I think it's very attractive,” she said.

Anyone with information about the theft should contact Pc Paul Downey, of Suffolk police, on 01986 835300.

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