THIEVES have ransacked a beautiful natural burial ground in South Warwickshire, causing thousands of pounds of damage.
Instead of traditional headstones, loved ones at Sun Rising Natural Burial Ground on the edge of Lower Tysoe are buried in the woods underneath memorial trees, while others have their ashes scattered in meadows of wild flowers.
The ground is run largely by volunteers. Manager Emma Restall-Orr, aged 48, was shocked last Friday when she discovered the new cabin where she organises funerals with mourners had been stripped bare.
After breaking through the front door, thieves ripped out a wood stove worth £1,000, also taking chairs and baskets with them. “It’s shocking,” said Emma, who lives in Tysoe and estimates the damage will cost a total of £2,000. “Why would somebody steal from a cemetery “We had a funeral coming in that day with 30 or 40 people and the cabin was a crime scene.”
Started in 2006, there are around 320 people of all faiths buried at Sun Rising. Remote and tranquil, fun-erals can accommodate Christian beliefs and there is also a small Muslim section.
Paths lead into the woods where small slate plaques by memorial trees direct mourners to their loved ones.
The cabin was put up in September, and the only thing of real value on site was the wood stove which was screwed in with brackets.
Of the crime, Emma said: “It was clearly a professional job. They tore out the wood stove. They’ll probably sell it for scrap metal.”
Manager Emma works at Sun Rising full-time but receives help from six or seven volunteers. It is part-funded by the charity, The Friends of Sun Rising.
“We are not a big company, we can’t really afford this,” said Emma. “We run funerals that are very affordable, we are very community based. As well as the environmental ethics, we have very strong social ethics.”
Left “shattered” by the whole ordeal, she now has nowhere to meet mourners and is unsure what to do next. “It is difficult to know what to do when something like this happens,” she admitted. “If we put in another stove the question is will they just come back and take that one too?”
She will now have to spend extra money fitting security cameras, but is worried of their impact.
“We always try to do things that won’t affect the families,” she said. “Of course we don’t want big security cameras, what we need to do is work out a system that doesn’t take away from the peace.”
Warwickshire Police described the theft as “heartless.”Asking anyone with information to call the non-emergency number 101, a spokesperson said: “While any theft of property is to be condemned, this theft, from a room which is used by families who are visiting the natural burial site is particularly heartless.”
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