Memorial to Blaina man, Kevin Andresen, who died in Korea is vandalised
7:02am Tuesday 17th September 2013 in Gwent news
FAMILY and friends of a Gwent man who died in a rock climbing accident in Korea last spring have spoken of their sadness and upset after a memorial to him was vandalised.
After Kevin Andresen, 30, from Blaina, died in May, grieving friends raised thousands of pounds in a matter of days to pay for a cremation service in South Korea, and to fly his ashes home.
Last month, a weeping willow - nature-loving Mr Andresen's favourite tree - was planted in his memory near the Guardian statue in Six Bells, which commemorates the miners who died in the 1960 colliery disaster there. Some of his ashes were buried beneath the tree.
Early last week however, little more than two weeks after it was planted, it was snapped off at the base and thrown over a nearby fence, leaving Mr Andresen's mum Gaynor and his partner Rachel Law devastated.
"We wanted a memorial for Kevin but he wasn't a plaque sort of person, he was more into living things," said Miss Law.
"On August 24 friends and family went up to Guardian site and planted the tree with some of the ashes, and his mum Gaynor read a poem.
"We put it on Facebook and the idea was that anyone could go and visit. Gaynor had been checking and caring for it. She said people in Six Bells had been really supportive in keeping an eye on it, and it was thriving.
"We thought it would be quite safe but then it was broken off, though the roots are still there.
"It's very upsetting and I hope whoever did this will read this and maybe it will shame them."
Mr Andresen's mum Gaynor called the vandalism "a kick in the teeth."
"The way I try to look at it is that whoever did this didn't know it was a memorial tree. In a way they are more to be pitied than blamed.
"How people responded after Kevin died is a special story of friendship, loyalty, love and positivity, and if only whoever did this had shown one of those qualities, perhaps this would not have happened."
Mr Andresen died on May 4 after falling from a coastal path on Jangbong Island, off the west coast of South Korea, near Inchon.
The Six Bells Regeneration Team - a community business set up to help regenerate the area - has now offered to replace the tree as a gesture of goodwill.
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