An award-winning Willingdon gardener has had the large tortoise ornament, described as the ‘focal point’ of her garden, stolen.
Cheryl and Dave Haken, who live opposite St Mary’s Church in Willingdon, say the heavy stone statue went missing from their garden at the weekend and has brought sadness to them and others in the village.
Dave said, “People would come up and look at the garden and the tortoise.
“There is a little boy called Oscar who goes to the playgroup and he used to come in to the garden and stroke the statue and even sit on it.
Cheryl, who won first in the cottage garden category of the Willingdon and Jevington in Bloom competition back in 2011, realised it had gone while tending to her front garden on Saturday morning (May 11).
Dave said, “It is so heavy. It can’t be lifted by one person. It was on the pea shingle and you could see it had been lifted out of place rather than dragged.”
Police have been informed about the theft and the PCSO has been at local car boot sales in a bid to find the unique ornament which is no longer available to buy new.
Dave and Cheryl are appealing to locals to keep their eyes peeled around Eastbourne.
Dave said, “It may just crop up in someone’s garden.”
Cheryl added, “We don’t want anyone to be prosecuted for this. We just want the tortoise back.
“It was my prized possession within the garden, a real focal point.
“Maybe whoever has stolen it will read this and put it back in the garden.” The couple are also expecting the tortoise might turn up of eBay in the coming weeks or months as they think it is probably worth around £250.
Anyone who sees the tortoise is asked to call police on 101, quoting serial 0403 of May 11.