West Ham fans left angry and upset after memorial garden is "trashed"
PUBLISHED: 11:24 19 September 2016 | UPDATED: 11:46 19 September 2016
The granddaughter of a "die-hard" West Ham fan has told of her shock after finding out that her beloved relative's grave was trashed via Twitter.
Jayne Wilks said she was “angry and upset” to see rubbish had been dumped, and flowers and mascots displaced, in the West Ham memorial ground in Upton Park where the remains of her grandfather, Leonard “Len” Wilks, and other former fans, lie.
The 20-year-old said she was upset that the site had not been maintained by the football club following its move to the London Stadium in Stratford, despite its promise to protect the memorial garden.
Photos shared on social networking sites just a few weeks after the start of the new football season showed the garden was overgrown and littered.
Commemorative plaques in memory of loved ones were also knocked over, although the garden has since been cleaned up by West Ham, despite developers Barratt London having taken over responsibility of the site.
Jayne, who lives in Dagenham, said: “I was crying my eyes out [when I saw it]. It is like trashing a grave in a cemetery.
“I was so closed to my grandad. He was everything to me. I am angry and upset. I am shocked.
“I just cannot believe that someone would do that.”
Former engineer and merchant navyman Len, who passed away aged 72 in March 2005 from bone cancer, was described by Jayne as the “heart and soul” of the family.
“He was the most loving and caring man in the world,” she said. “We haven’t told my nan yet as it will devastate her.”
Her cousin, Joseph Wilks, also vented his anger on Twitter, saying: “Plaques all over the place. When will the club respond? This is a disgrace to my family and others.”
Mr Wilks said he had tried to contact the football club’s chairman via Twitter as well as making calls to the club as he was unable to access the site himself due to it being temporarily boarded up.
A spokeswoman for West Ham United said: “The garden has been temporarily boarded up to protect it while construction work is going on.
“Barratt London has commissioned landscape works to maintain and enhance the garden for the long-term, and make it fully accessible to the public.
“In the interim, they have agreed to admit a West Ham grounds-keeping team on a regular basis to keep the garden tidy, and visitors wishing to pay their respects can contact firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange special access.”
Developers Barratt London said the site would be maintained moving forward.