Family’s torment to find plaque on bench is missing

Three-year-old April Houghton at the bench at Cuerden Valley Park in memory of her grandfather, Malcolm Hough, after the plaque was taken
Three-year-old April Houghton at the bench at Cuerden Valley Park in memory of her grandfather, Malcolm Hough, after the plaque was taken
  • A bench with a plaque was placed at Cuerden Valley Park in memory of Malcolm Hough
  • His daughter discovered the plaque had been removed when she went to the bench on the 10th anniversary of her father’s death
  • The plaque was fitted with tamper-proof screws after a previous plaque was stolen last year

A grieving family marking the 10th anniversary of a father’s death were shocked to discover a memorial plaque had been stolen.

Lorraine and Mark Houghton, and their three-year-old daughter April, went to Cuerden Valley Park to remember Lorraine’s father Malcolm Hough.

Malcolm Hough

Malcolm Hough

But when they arrived at a bench placed in a treasured spot in his memory, they discovered the plaque was not in place.

Lorraine, 34, of Kirkby Avenue, Clayton-le-Woods, said: “It was raining and miserable and we wouldn’t normally go on that day because it wasn’t nice.

“To see the plaque gone on his 10-year anniversary, I was heartbroken.

“I was gobsmacked that someone could do it.”

“To see the plaque gone on his 10-year anniversary, I was heartbroken.

Lorraine Houghton

Malcolm, from Clayton-le-Woods, was just 46 when he died in February 2005 from a blood clot in his heart.

Lorraine was his only child and the pair would often walk their dogs in the spot where the bench was placed.

So the family decided to put it there in his memory when he died.

Lorraine, Mark, April and Lorraine’s mother Johanne regularly go to the bench to remember Malcolm.

The bench was the first place the couple took April when she left hospital as a baby.

She has a rare blood condition and can pick up illnesses or infections around other people, but the bench is a safe place for her to go.

A plaque was taken from the bench last year, as well as several others in the park.

The new plaque was fitted with tamper-proof screws, but these appear to have been broken when the plaque was forced off.

This time, no other plaques appear to have been taken.

Jim Longbottom, manager of Cuerden Valley Park, said the plaque would be replaced for Malcolm’s family.

He added: “It’s probably bored kids. They are not worth anything so I can’t understand why they would be taken.”