SICKENING vandals have wrecked and stolen a memorial bench that was donated in loving memory of a dedicated scout leader who died of cancer.

SICKENING vandals have wrecked and stolen a memorial bench that was donated in loving memory of a dedicated scout leader who died of cancer.

The bench was placed at the district headquarters of the Cromwell Scouts along the Thicket Path, just off Westwood Road in St Ives.

It was donated in memory of former Warboys resident Christine Smith who was a scout leader for 25 years and who died four years ago of cancer.

District commissioner for Cromwell Scout District, Tony Best was a friend of Mrs Smith and said the vandalism and theft had left him annoyed and upset.

He said: "Christine was an admired long term cub leader. The bench has an engraved plaque to Christine and we are hopeful that it will be found in due course and returned to us."

The bench was targeted between 7.30pm last Friday (June 27) and 9.30am the following morning. It was ripped from the ground with only the remains of a wooden stump being left behind.

Also damaged was an engraved memorial bench dedicated to former scout Alun Owen. This bench was secured to the ground with a chain and had been kicked over and stamped on.

Wooden fencing around the car park was also damaged.

Mr Best said: "It's such a shame that these acts of vandalism occur, especially as the young people and their leaders voluntarily put in so much time and effort for their local communities. It would be great if the perpetrators could channel their spare time and energy into doing good for the community - perhaps by joining the scouts or another voluntary organisation."

The vandalism has been cleared up and efforts are being made to find the missing bench.

In the same week, four log benches which had been made by scouts were torn apart and thrown in the water at Wistow Woods.

The Wildlife Trust warden for the wood, Peg Tansley, said the incident had left her and her husband Dr Dennis Tansley, who is also a warden, irate.

She said the benches had been made by cubs from 1st Bury and Upwood Scout Group in partnership with an American Cub pack from RAF Alconbury.

The vandalism took place between noon on Monday, June 21 and 9.45am the following day.

INFORMATION: Anyone with information is asked to contact the crime and incident management unit at March police station on 0345 4564564 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111. Anyone who knows the whereabouts of the memorial bench is asked to e-mail Tony Best at dc.cromwell@btinternet.com