Friday, 07 August 2020

Families' joy as stolen grave memorials found

TWO ornaments that were stolen from graves have been found — thanks to the Henley Standard.

TWO ornaments that were stolen from graves have been found — thanks to the Henley Standard.

The decorative stone cat and pig were taken from two separate plots at Fair Mile cemetery in Henley.

The first, which depicted a Siamese cat on its back, had been placed on Julie Jones’s grave a few weeks after she was laid to rest in 2004.

The pig ornament was on the grave of Jean Oleinik, who was buried in 2010.

Mrs Jones’s son Martin, of Station Road, Henley, and Mrs Oleinik’s daughter Josie Douglas, of Clarence Road, Henley, issued a joint appeal for the artefacts to be returned on the front page of the Henley Standard two weeks ago.

This was spotted by David Potter, owner of the Tudor House antiques shop in Duke Street, who recognised both items in his store and alerted the police.

Officers contacted Mrs Douglas and asked her to identify the pig before allowing her to take it home.

They had been struggling to trace Mr Jones so the Henley Standard alerted him to the discovery. He had been offering a reward for the recovery of the cat but Mr Potter refused to accept it.

Mr Jones said: “This is a fantastic result as I really didn’t hold much hope of ever seeing the cat again.

“I thought there might be the slightest chance that someone might recognise it if it went in the paper and luckily that’s exactly what happened.

“I would like to thank the Henley Standard for all its assistance and sterling efforts in retrieving this.

“I would also like to thank the shop owner for coming forward when he realised he was in possession of this item. He is clearly a man of great integrity.”

Mrs Douglas said: “I’m so glad that the pig is back with us, where it belongs.

“I started crying when I saw it because I hadn’t expected to see it again. I just hope whoever is responsible never has to endure what we went through.

“Mum would be thrilled to bits because she had severe dementia and really loved it. We’re just so grateful to have got it back and thankful to everyone who has made it possible.

“It’s still at our home for the time being because we’re still a bit afraid to put it back.”

Mr Jones’s mother was born in Wargrave and lived in the area her whole life.

She was living in Simmons Road, Henley, when she died of cancer, aged 64. Her family donated a bench in her name to the cemetery.

She bought the statue about five years before her death as it reminded her of her pet cat Pippa, who would often sit on her lap while rolling over on her back.

Mrs Oleinik was born in Bethnal Green and moved to the area as a child. She married as a young woman but her husband Joe died in 1977 and is also buried at Fair Mile.

At the time of her death, aged 78, she had dementia and contented herself by collecting toys and statues of pigs.

Mr Potter said: “I was delighted to be able to help as it was a disgusting crime. Mrs Douglas was absolutely delighted and very emotional when she came in to pick up the pig.”

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