VANDALS stole a memorial bench and torched a sports pavilion on a rampage through the village of Snitterfield on Friday night.
The bench in memory of Lance Corporal Paul Muirhead, the Bearley 28-year-old killed in Afghanistan in 2006, was taken from the Snitterfield Arms, carried through the village, and then dumped.
On the same night, an act of “mindless arson” at the sports club pavilion on Wolverton Road did up to £10,000 worth of damage, and air was let out of car tyres.
Paul was a good friend of Fiona Booth's family, and she recovered the bench on Sunday after a villager spotted it dumped behind a garage.
“It is just shocking,” she said. “ What’s the mentality? It has to be someone from around here, because only someone in the village would know that area.”
The bench was chained to the floor at the Snitterfield Arms, which closed its doors on Thursday, but the callous vandals snapped part of it before carrying it off.
When she realised it was missing, Fiona phoned Paul’s mum, Violet Claydon, to see if she had taken it. “It is just such a shame I had to call her and ask her that,” she said.
At 10pm on Friday night, two fire engines from Stratford-upon-Avon rushed to the green wooden cricket pavilion to put out a fire started in the home changing room.
Richard Yendall, club captain of Snitterfield Cricket Club, assesses the damage inside the pavilion.
There was extensive smoke damage to the walls and ceilings, and some of the electrics and lights were melted.
Lee Hillier, chairman of Snitterfield Cricket Club, said: “Luckily, it was not actually burnt to the ground, but all the rooms were full of smoke. We went in afterwards, had a look around, and it looks like it was youngsters who broke the small window at the back.
“They started a couple of fires on the floor using the umpires coats and a cricket helmet.”
The pavilion, which is used by both the cricket club, and the football club and their youth teams, is now unusable. It is owned by Snitterfield Parish Council, who today (Monday) confirmed they were putting in an insurance claim.
Mr Hillier said: “Everything is thick with smoke damage, the roof and the walls are blackened, lights and electrics are melted.”
The cricket club are now praying they can replace the walls and ceiling by the start of the season in April, but the football team were not so lucky.
Snitterfield Snipers’ Saturday game against Shipston Excelsior Colts in the Stratford Alliance Nursing Home Cup had to be postponed.
“It is a big inconvenience for the whole sports club,” said Mr Hillier.
“The more worrying thing is that this was just mindless arson, nothing was stolen.”
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