A canal volunteer has blasted vandals after the theft of five commemorative brass plaques from benches on the Wendover Arm near Tring.
Ray Orth, assistant restoration director of the Wendover Arm Trust, said: “It’s a bit sick actually. It’s upsetting people would destroy a memorial.
“The plaques are in memory of people who have passed away, and people who enjoyed the canal and the towpath.”
The plaques are believed to have been taken overnight between July 9 and 10.
The benches can be found on a two-mile stretch of towpath, between the hamlets of Drayton Beauchamp and Little Tring.
The first bench was installed by the trust in 2009 in honour of its late founder and waterways fan Roger Lewis.
Roger’s widow Sheila said: “I’m absolutely disgusted. Why do people do it? It’s senseless.”
“The canal was his pet project; if it weren’t for his perseverance, the work wouldn’t have happened.
“He was the one who starting using the fields for the canal festival every year, which used to raise a lot of money.”
Bereaved families provided the cash for the other seats and paid for the engraving, in total more than £400 each for each seat, before the trust installed them at various points along the towpath.
The incident has been reported to the police but it looks unlikely that the cuplrits will be caught, although scrapyards in the area have been alerted.
The trust will look to replace the plaques, and Ray said there has been discussion about how to prevent the theft happening again.
“There’s been the suggestion that we should have the actual bench engraved, or a wooden plaque – and that has a lot of merit – but we’re not quite sure how we’re going to do it yet.”
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