Heartbreak as Graham Siswick's memorial benches are cruelly stolen from Harrogate RUFC
The widow of Harrogate RUFC's deeply-missed manager Graham Siswick has spoken of her heartbreak at her husband's memorial benches being cruelly stolen from the club.
Jennifer Siswick said the heartless theft showed a total lack of respect for those who have prided themselves on keeping Graham's memory alive, and abuses the honour that was subscribed to her late husband.
She said: "This is just so sad and disappointing - it shows a total disrespect for people's feelings. And it's sad that people can be so lacking in compassion and sensitivity.
"I find it heartbreaking that the honour subscribed to my late husband should be so wantonly abused."
The Rudding Lane club has already rallied round to replace the two benches which had a home next to the scoreboard, and Mrs Siswick has praised Harrogate RUFC for their ongoing emotional support.
She said: "I am extremely appreciative to them for replacing the benches - they are a fantastic club, and have done so much to keep Graham's memory alive."
Club secretary Bill Barrack, who was a close personal friend of Mr Siswick's, said: "Graham joined Harrogate Rugby Club as a colt, an under-19 player, in 1963, though nobody then would have realised what a major event this was for the club. He became an absolute linchpin for us over the next 55 years.
"The jobs he did included being chairman of rugby for three separate periods, being chairman of selectors, our club vice-chairman, and, most memorably, he was our first team manager for 25 years. His team manager duties were meticulously carried out with efficiency, kindness and humour, and he became deeply loved by successive generations of Harrogate players. Love is not too strong a word to use."
Mr Barrack said tears were shed at the club when they realised that the memorial benches had been stolen.
He said: "The stolen memorial benches were funded by Jennifer, Graham’s wife, and the installation costs were covered by donations from club members. It was absolutely devastating to find that these items had been so callously stolen.
"The despicable thieves could have been in no doubt about what it was that they were stealing. Tears were shed by the clubhouse staff and by Graham’s friends, including me, when the theft was discovered. I then had to tell Jennifer what had happened. There just aren’t the words for me to describe what I feel about those who did such a terrible thing."
Hundreds of people attended Graham's funeral in June last year to pay their respects, following his short battle with pancreatic cancer.