A FATHER has spoken of his heartbreak after thieves stole stone flags from his son’s memorial, saying ‘nobody knows how much it hurts.’
Ronnie Hinchliffe’s son, Paul Lee, died of Leukaemia a week after his 21st birthday in 1993 and a stone monument was built in the playing fields in Shaw Cross in his memory.
But Mr Hinchliffe’s daughter, Linda Jewitt, discovered the memorial had been desecrated by vandals who removed three Yorkshire stone flags from the site earlier this month.
Mr Hinchliffe, 75, said: “Linda called me up last Saturday after walking in the park and said, ‘dad, I’ve got some bad news for you’.
“It upsets me now even talking about it. It brings it all back – he was such a popular lad. It wrecks me.”
Kirklees Council approached Mr Hinchliffe about building a memorial to his son and the playing fields at Shaw Cross were renamed the Paul Lee Hinchliffe Memorial Playing Fields.
The opening of the memorial was attended by players from Widnes Vikings Rugby Club, which was the team Paul had wanted to sign for.
Mr Hinchliffe is a former professional rugby league prop forward, who played for Hull, Batley and Bramley. And his son followed in his footsteps, he played for Yorkshire Juniors and was captain of Dewsbury and Batley Schoolboys.
“He was the youngest ever player to score a drop goal at Wembley. I was so proud when I saw his name come up on the board,” Mr Hinchliffe added.
Mr Hinchliffe, who lives in Syke Ing Close, Earlsheaton, is a successful pigeon fancier and competes every year to win a cup named after his son, the Paul Lee Hincliffe Memorial Trophy.
He said: “All the pigeon lads still talk about him today. They wonder if it upsets me, and I say to them, ‘it’s when you stop talking about him that it will hurt’.”
A council spokeswoman said: “We spoke to Mr Hinchliffe earlier this week and he is understandably upset about the damage to his son’s memorial. We have arranged for the landscape development team to replace the stolen flags and they are currently matching up the stone and repairs will be complete within a week.”