THE husband of a long-serving local councillor has spoken of his “devastation” after callous thieves stole the memorial bench from a complex named in her honour.
Mike Maginnis’s wife, Elizabeth, who represented Granton for 22 years, died aged 54 from a brain haemorrhage in November 2008.
Her devotion to the community was recognised last year when new sheltered accommodation in the Forth ward was named the Elizabeth Maginnis Court and a memorial bench was installed there by her family. Mr Maginnis, 61, said the centre at Royston Mains Crescent had become a focal point of commemoration for the family, who would visit and reflect on Elizabeth’s achievements in life.
However, the hardwood bench – which cost £1000 and is engraved with poignant messages – was stolen from a secure courtyard at the centre overnight on Saturday.
Mr Maginnis said he was “devastated and appalled” at its disappearance but insisted he would not press for prosecution provided the bench was returned.
“It’s upsetting for the whole family,” he said. “The bench is a link to the family and recognises the huge amount of work she did in the community over the years she was a councillor.
“It’s devastating because Elizabeth had put so much into the community which is why we wanted the bench to go into the centre, which is a flagship of what elderly care may be in the future. We bought a substantial bench and situated it in the garden of the centre so residents could enjoy it and the family had a focus for our memories.”
The father-of-three insisted that the theft was carried out by a group of people who must have used a car or van to spirit the bench away.
“It beggars belief why anyone would take a bench that can’t be resold,” the widower said.
“It’s a memorial bench engraved with sayings from the family and Elizabeth’s date of birth and death. Unless you really doctor it you will not be able to resell it because it’s unique.”
It is understood a section of a 6ft-high perimeter fence showed signs of being bent back where it is thought the thieves had hoisted the bench out of the centre’s garden before fleeing.
Mr Maginnis said: “We have involved the police but I am not interested in a prosecution – I only want to get the bench back.
“I don’t think we will see it again but I hope somebody in the community might have a conscience and decide they have made a mistake and give it back.
“I hope by speaking out we can galvanise the community and shame the people responsible into giving it back.
“Thinking we won’t ever see it again is a devastating thing to consider.”
Susan Napier, business development manager at Dunedin Canmore Group, which owns Elizabeth Maginnis Court, said: “It’s a real shame because Elizabeth Maginnis was a very well respected person in the area, so why anyone would want to take this memorial bench I have no idea but it’s very frustrating and I feel for Mr Maginnis and his family.”
A police spokeswoman said they had been carrying out house-to-house inquiries relating to the theft.