Two sisters say they feel they have lost their mother TWICE after callous thieves stole her ashes.
Marie-Clare Wright, 31, and her sister Rebecca Wright, 29, experienced a “feeling like no other” when they realised that their mother’s remains had been taken during the burglary.
Their mum, Clare Wright, was just 24-years-old when she passed away after battling lymphoma for 18 months in 1993.
She left two young daughters, Marie-Clare, who was only three weeks away from her tenth birthday and Rebecca who had just turned eight.
Speaking about the realisation that their mother’s ashes had been taken, Marie-Clare said: “Losing our mum once was awful but losing her again was something that I didn’t even think was possible.”
Marie-Clare explained how her mum had felt frightened of dying at such a young age when she realised she had cancer and had specifically asked that her ashes be kept in the family home.
She said: “My mum went through rounds of chemotherapy and really tried to fight the cancer but I think it was too late when she was diagnosed.
“She was so young and she was really scared of dying.
“She said she wanted to be cremated after she died but that she didn’t want to be buried and instead kept in the house with us. She said she wanted to be kept safe.”
After Clare passed away, her family kept her ashes in an oak wooden box with a gold plaque on the top inscribed with her name and date of birth, in the wardrobe of Marie-Clare and Rebecca’s granddad, Leonard Wright.
It was from here that they were stolen when Leonard, 76 and his wife, Angeline, 77, had their house in Darlington, Co. Durham, broken into at the beginning of September.
Marie-Clare, who has two young daughters with her fiancé Paul Wilson, said: “My sister and I go round to see our nana and granddad everyday and on this day we had been at their house before my granddad needed to go for a doctors appointment.
“We left the house at 2:50pm and my sister took my nana and granddad to the doctors while I took my little girls to Asda. The house was only empty for about 40 minutes at the most.
“I went straight home from Asda and my sister dropped my grandparents off outside their house but then they realised that they couldn’t get in the house and called me.”
Marie-Clare, a quality control manager for her father’s plastic company, then went back to her grandparents house and realised that a table had been put in front of the door to block them from getting in.
When she went to look round the back of the property, she found that two big garage doors had been smashed and the thieves had then smashed the conservatory windows to gain access to the property.
Marie-Clare said: “I had to go in through the house to let everyone in at the front.
“I was really frightened that they might still be there – it was incredibly scary walking through the house.”
The thieves had taken a significant amount of money, family jewellery including some that belonged to their mum and their granddad’s mobility scooter.
Marie-Clare said: “The thieves had not really touched the rooms downstairs – it was like they had gone upstairs specifically. They really ransacked the main bedroom.”
However, it wasn’t until a few weeks later that the family realised Clare’s ashes had been taken too.
Marie-Clare said: “My nana visited a mobile library and started speaking to someone there who asked her how things were after the break-in.
“It was then that this woman said she was so sorry that the ashes had been stolen as well. My nana ran straight back home and that’s when we discovered that they had gone.
“We called the police immediately and they got in touch with the woman who my nana had spoken to. She has since told them who she spoke to and the police are hoping they’ll be able to trace it all the way back.”
Talking about the impact the burglary has had on her family, Marie-Clare said her nana is now “petrified” to be in the house on her own.
She said: “We felt angry and hurt and upset when we knew our things had been taken but it was a completely different feeling when we realised our mum had gone – I thought I was going to collapse.
“We just can’t believe that someone would take our mum’s ashes. We didn’t even consider that they might be gone.
“It was like a feeling I had never experienced before and then I was physically sick.
“I hope that the police will be able to trace it back but I’m not sure. We don’t care who did this or even that they’ve got other stuff, we just want our mum’s ashes back.”