Statue of Elm Park soldier killed in Afghan suicide attack stolen from Dagenham park
PUBLISHED: 16:24 23 August 2017 | UPDATED: 17:09 23 August 2017
A statue honouring the memory of a soldier killed in action has been stolen by vandals.
The portrait bench in Beam Valley Country Park, Dagenham, was destroyed after vandals cut stole a metal sculpture of warrant officer Ian Fisher, 42.
He died on the final day of an operation in Helmand province, Afghanistan, in November 2013, and his elderly parents now face a three to four hour drive up to where he is buried.
“It takes three to four hours to drive to Litchfield, it’s near Stoke-on-Trent. It isn’t just round the corner,” said Mrs Fisher, 73, of Ambleside Avenue, Elm Park.
“It [the sculpture] is our memorial to him. It’s our local spot where we can go and contemplate.
“To do this to the statue... it’s hurtful to us, to see him hacked down.”
“Whoever has done it, I hope they get their comeuppance.”
Ian died after a meeting with the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) was attacked by a suicide vehicle improvised to become an explosive device.
The memorial also features sculptures of folk singer Billy Bragg and Ford sewing machinists who fought for equal pay.
It came about through a joint effort between Havering and Barking and Dagenham councils and was installed by charity Sustrans, which delivered the GLA-funded project in October 2015.
“I can only assume it’s vandals or somebody after the scrap metal,” continued Mrs Fisher.
“I would say it’s quite possible they will come back to cut the other ones.”
Mrs Fisher and her husband Simon, 71, were alerted to the theft by a friend who had walked their dog in the area.
“I felt disgusted quite frankly. There’s no other words for it. I was sad and upset,” she added.
“The three figures were voted for by the public.
“It’s not just us they are getting at, it is the public.”
Sustrans head of infrastructure, Tom Sharland said: “We’re appalled that vandals have stolen the sculpture of Ian Fisher and saddened to hear of the anguish it’s caused his family.
“We will be talking to the borough as a matter of urgency and exploring what opportunities are available to help fund a replacement sculpture.”