Treasured bike stolen as soldier's widow sang at First World War memorial service

First published in Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Crime Reporter, also covering Barton and Wood Farm. Call me on (01865) 425427

A SOLDIER’S widow had the bicycle he gave her stolen during a First World War memorial service.

Brenda Monk, 75, and her daughter left their bikes outside St Helen’s Church in the centre of Abingdon during the special service marking 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War.

But when they got out of the service on Monday last week, the lock had been cut off and her bike – an anniversary present from her late husband Bill Monk – had been stolen.

The great-grandmother, of Lenthall Road, said she had been saddened by the crime.

She said: “It is the irony of it. It was the last thing I expected. It makes you wonder what the world is coming to.”

Mr Monk, who passed away in May 2012, served in the army for 22 years and rose to the rank of Sergeant.

After joining the Royal Army Service Corps, which became the Royal Corps of Transport, he served in Germany, Northern Ireland, the Persian Gulf, Cyprus and Hong Kong between 1953 and 1977.

The 76-year-old had bought the £270 red Raleigh Oakland for his wife in March 2012, as a gift for their 54th wedding anniversary.

Mrs Monk, a former checkout manager at the Marcham Road Tesco store, last night said: “It was my lifeline. I shopped on it, I visited people on it.”

She had been singing in the choir with her daughter when her bike was taken.

Her daughter Brenda Pratley, 53, of Dearlove Close in Abingdon, said it showed there was a story behind every bike theft. She said: “It is not just about a bit of metal with wheels on it.

“It was her means of transport but most of all a treasured gift from her husband. He was in the army most of his life and on Monday evening he would have been there honouring his fellow serviceman along with us all. We were devastated. People were out doing dishonourable things when we were honouring the people who did honourable things.”

Thames Valley Police spokeswoman Rhianne Pope said the bicycle had been taken between 8.45pm and 11.10pm on Monday, August 4.

She said the force was investigating but no arrests had been made.

Call police on 101 if you can help.

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