Family band thieves who stole cancer victim’s anniversary tribute ‘sick scum’

Stella Clark at the bench where the flowers were stolen from. Below, Stella's husband Alan
Stella Clark at the bench where the flowers were stolen from. Below, Stella's husband Alan

A FAMILY have blasted the “sick scum” who twice stole flowers from a cancer victim’s memorial bench.

Relatives of Hartlepool man Alan Clark bought a seat at one of his favourite fishing spots after he died of an industrial related lung cancer three years ago. He was 59.

Alan Clark.

Alan Clark.

But roses placed on the bench at The Cliff, Seaton Carew, by Alan’s wife Stella to mark the third anniversary of his death were stolen within two days.

And some chrysanthemums taped to the bench by Alan’s daughter, Sharon Wilson, during a visit to Hartlepool last month were also cruelly torn away just a couple of days later.

Stella, 58, told the Mail: “My first reaction was to be angry that someone could take them off.

“It made the anniversary seem harder. It felt like a rough week after that. I felt low and depressed.”

Stella and two of her grandchildren put the flowers on the bench during a picnic the day before the third anniversary of his loss.

Alan, a dad-of-three, regularly fished from the spot on the seafront.

Daughter Sharon, 40, originally from town but who now lives in Wimbledon, said: “We used lots of tape to attach them, and a couple of days later they had gone.

“It was the anniversary of his death on August 3, and my mam went and placed some more flowers. By the fifth they had gone again.

“Some sick scum had taken the flowers, which has deeply upset my mother.

“At first we thought it was the council being overzealous, but when the second bunch of flowers disappeared and the sticky tape was left, we ruled them out.”

A spokesman for Hartlepool Borough Council said: “Our staff are sensitive to people’s feelings and we certainly have not removed any flowers from the bench.”

Sharon added: “You could only imagine how it made me feel when it became clear they’d been taken.”

Alan had campaigned to get compensation laws changed for sufferers of industrial diseases after he was struck down with the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma in 2009.

The former thermal insulation engineer, from the Stockton Road area of Hartlepool, spoke of his battle with the disease in the Mail.

He was one of the last to successfully claim compensation for pleural plaques before the law was changed in 2007, leaving sufferers only able to qualify when diagnosed with mesothelioma.

He made one last bid to have the decision overturned when he appeared posthumously in an emotional video appeal to Government ministers which was screened during a Trade Union Congress (TUC) conference in Liverpool in September, a month after he died.

An inquest into Alan’s death ruled he died from an industrial disease.