‘Disheartening’ damage to Sensory Garden as vandals strike again

By Sarah Pitt   |   Reporter   |
Saturday 26th February 2022 4:00 pm
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A FRESH attack by vandals on Tavistock Sensory Garden has seen a bird bath smashed, picnic tables damaged, rose arches bent and a treasured sculpture given by one of the garden founders chucked in the canal.

The sphere part of the armillary — an astronomical demonstration device — was fished out of the canal on Monday night, after apparently being used as a football. It has been bent out of shape. Other parts of the globe-like structure have been found strewn around The Meadows park.

Trustee Graham Parker said they were ‘disheartened’ by the damage in the garden off Plymouth Road. ‘The sphere was such a popular feature in the garden that it figures on one of our sensory garden cards. It was a gift from one of the founders of the garden and we are distraught at the mindless damage that has been done.’

He added that the armillary, which is worth around £300, was given to the garden by founding trustee John Ladlow. ‘He was quite distressed when he found out,’ he said.

This latest damage took place the weekend before last.

It follows an earlier incident of theft of several specimen trees from the garden which were stolen sometime over the Christmas period.

The theft of the valuable trees, which bring autumn colour to the garden, was the work of someone who knew about plants, Graham believes.

‘Much of the damage is by kids,’ he said. ‘They have a few energy drinks or they sniff a bit of powder — and believe me I have found the empty packaging and containers in the garden — and then they knock things over.

‘The bird bath was smashed but I can see how a kid might just have fallen over it. and the rose walk, when we have got some stuff inside you, you might swing on it.

‘The acers, though, are different. No kid would go into a garden, dig up two specimen trees and take them away. They are in somebody’s garden now and that is different. I think it is more serious.

‘They were trees that were bought by the family of one of our trustees that died and they are very special to us and very special to a lot of people. I think stealing these is a step up from what has happened before.

‘We will think hard about putting any special plants in the garden again if we think someone is actually looking out and is going to steal them.’

Head gardener Sally Whitfield said the deliberate theft of plants was somethimg entirely new.

‘If it wasn’t enough to have vandals attacking us year in and year out, now someone has come into the garden, dug up two of our beautiful acers and stolen them.’

All the thefts have been reported to the police.

Graham said the local police had told them that they had added the garden on their daily patrols.

‘The police have given us a crime reference number. Basically they go down to the garden on patrol so we know that they go down there but they are stretched. The street pastors also go down there over the weekend and they chat with the kids and other organisations are doing their best. We don’t feel we could put CCTV up in a garden because that would cost more than £10,000.’

He said the attacks on the garden had multiplied over the past 18 months.

‘We have such a large excess on our policy that we can’t claim for this from insurance. We’re going to have to pay for replacement and repair from funds.’

Sensory garden chairman of the trustees Richard Jones and his wife found the armillary bent out of shape in the canal in the Meadows on Monday this week. The other parts of the sculpture have also been found scattered around the Meadows.

To help the Tavistock Sensory Garden with a donation, visit https://www.justgiving.com/tavistock-communitysensorygarden

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