Anguish over plaque theft

Donna's family pictured visiting her memory chair

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Heartbroken parents have been forced to relive the pain of losing their daughter after a memorial plaque in Crawfordsburn Park was stolen.

David and Sandra Sloan have voiced their ‘disgust’ upon discovering the memorial plaque for their daughter Donna had been stolen last weekend, following the relaxation of lockdown restrictions.

The plaque had been placed on a memory chair at Crawfordsburn Park last year close to where Donna’s ashes had been scattered, marking the 10th anniversary of her death.

Donna passed away at 22 years-old in 2009 after battling leukaemia.

Her final wishes were to have her ashes scattered near a hill she had fond memories of as a child at Crawfordsburn Park.

Donna’s parents, who live in Belfast, were disappointed to discover their precious plaque had been stolen, noting that it acted as a marker for them to fondly remember her.

“We took her there as a child and I had discussed with my daughter, when she knew she was going to die, about what she wanted. It was very difficult as a mother but we talked about it and I asked her reasons why and she told me she always remembered as a child rolling down a hill there,” Sandra explained.

David added: “Donna accepted she was dying and with bravery she picked her spot for her ashes to be scattered. I’m sure she only considered its beauty and not the fact that some low-life would deface her memory.”

He continued: “We were so pleased to have a wee marker for her but are so angry that somebody would just rip it off. It’s disgusting.”

Talking about his daughter, who was lovingly known as Donna Duck, as well as for her yellow car she named ‘Quakers’,  David joked that she was ‘an absolute rocket’ who handled her illness bravely.

The little plaque which honoured Donna with her nickname and a yellow duck, offered her family comfort but with her birthday coming up on June 19, the family is keen to have a replacement placed at their daughter’s final resting place.

Speaking directly to those who have stolen the precious memorial plaque, David said: “I hope you don’t have to experience loss like we have. It was so important to us on that wee chair because it was a wee marker for her. I am lost for words. I would hate to think someone has taken it home as a token or something.”

David said the plaque acted as a headstone, and for someone to rip it away was like ‘taking a sledgehammer’ to a headstone.

Sandra, who said she was ‘gutted’ to discover the plaque was gone, added: “I just don’t understand the mentality of someone doing this. It’s just thoughtlessness.

“With the pain and suffering she went through, we got a wee lift from marking somewhere to go and somebody just heartless has done this.

“It was quite upsetting as a mother. This was something that was precious to us. Words can’t express how you feel.”

Sandra concluded that she hoped those responsible felt ‘some shame’

The family are hoping to get a new plaque erected before her birthday on June 19 and are hopeful this will not happen again.