Family 'overwhelmed' by response after young soldier's headstone is vandalised at Carrickfergus cemetery

The family of a young Carrickfergus man who passed away in 2008 have been "overwhelmed" by support after his grave was vandalised.

Monday, 4th October 2021, 10:26 am
Colin Cartmill and his brother Stephen.

A headstone at the resting place of Colin Cartmill in Victoria Cemetery was damaged in an incident over the weekend.

Appealing for anyone with information to come forward, a PSNI spokesperson said: "Between Friday 24th and Saturday 25th, a headstone in the graveyard was pushed over and the front of the stone vandalised.

"If you have any information in relation to this please call us on 101 or anonymously call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. The reference number is 340 27/09/21."

Hundreds of pounds have already been raised towards the headstone's repair in a fundraising campaign set up by members of Colin's family.

The young Carrickfergus man, who was married with a newborn son, was a veteran of the Royal Irish Regiment.

His brother, Stephen told the Carrick Times: "Colin would have been well-known and well-liked around the town; he was a bit of a character and really family-oriented.

"[The vandalism] has opened up very old wounds. The fact that someone would not only damage his headstone but specifically the picture of him that's on it - that's very difficult."

The family established a JustGiving page (available here), initially to cover the cost of the headstone's repair.

However, they were soon inundated with donations from members of the public, many of whom expressed outrage at the targeting of Colin's grave.

'Overwhelmed' by support

Such has been the response that any funds raised over and above the cost of the headstone's repair will be donated to charity.

"We were actually overwhelmed and completely taken aback by how quickly the money was raised; I suppose for a lot of people it's a way to pay their respects to Colin," Stephen added.

"The stonemasons even lowered the cost of the repair so that they wouldn't make a profit on it.

"The main focus now should be on prevention, maybe something like CCTV so that other families don't have to go through anything like this."

East Antrim MLA, John Stewart, said he had raised the issue of installing CCTV at the cemetery with Mid and East Antrim Council on behalf of the Cartmill family.

"It's regrettable that this is something we have to look at, but I have asked what can be done to protect our graveyards," he added. "At the very least, CCTV would potentially put people off doing something like this again."

Responding, a spokesperson for Mid and East Antrim Borough Council said: “We are aware of an incident at Victoria Cemetery, which was reported to the PSNI and to the family, by council’s Cemeteries team.

“It is extremely disappointing that this vandalism has taken place. Our cemeteries are a place of reflection for so many people, and this incident will have been distressing and upsetting for others whose loved ones are buried in the cemetery.

“At present, there are no plans to install CCTV in our cemeteries, however, this will be kept under constant review.

“Council continue to work with statutory and community partners to address antisocial behaviour and vandalism across the borough.”

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