A memorial bench paying tribute to a tragic teenager has been given a new home after being targeted by someone who carried out a premeditated act of vandalism.
Family and friends of popular young sportswoman Naomi Smith, of Dronfield, near Sheffield, who died from cancer aged16, were left devastated when the tribute was attacked by mindless yobs just before Christmas.
The wooden bench was ripped up from its moorings in Gosforth Fields and thrown into a wooded cops.
Before the incident, it had spent two years being a quiet place of reflection for members of the close-knit community, overlooking the pitches of where Naomi played football.
“It is a big three-seater bench. Someone had physically ripped it up and carried it 50 metres,” said Naomi’s grandfather Tony Streets.
Before losing a brave battle with leukaemia, Naomi won numerous trophies and championships with Sheffield United Community Ladies FC and trained at the Blades centre of excellence. Her club retired her number 17 shirt after her death in May 2011 and the people of Dronfield rallied together to raise funds for the bench
The hand-engraved memorial was moved to a temporary location amid fears of further attacks and damge before a new place was agreed with North East Derbyshire District Council, where it has now been installed.
Mr Streets spoke out about the upset the vandalism caused in a bid to make perpetrators think about the consequences of their actions - and deter them from striking again.
He said: “We cannot understand the actions of someone so callous as to ignore the meaning of the bench as a place of calm and for quiet contemplation.
“The family were devastated. A huge number of people in Dronfield knew Naomi.”