Family’s heartfelt tribute to late gay man rescued after disappearing from Gay Village

Emma Cooke October 19, 2021
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Manchester's Sackville Gardens, where the plaques were. (Getty)

Two memorial plaques believed to have been stolen from a park in Manchester’s Gay Village have been found in rubbish collected by council cleaners.

The plaques were in memory of Carl D’Arcy, 37, from Rochdale, who passed away in February 2019.  

His family chose to place the tributes in the park due to the significance Gay Village had had on D’Arcy’s life, but they went missing in September.

“When he passed away, his family felt it was appropriate to spread his ashes where he was most known,” friend Shaun Lake said in an interview with the Manchester Evening News.

He added: “It’s been there for over two years now and we all take it in turns to tidy up the area and lay some flowers and candles.”

Manchester’s LGBT Advisor and a member of the Friends of Manchester’s Gay Village group, Carl Austin-Behan, had been assisting the family in their search for the missing plaques.

They were believed to have been stolen, but turned up in a pile of rubbish collected by Manchester City Council.

“One of them is damaged but what seems to have happened is that they’ve been picked up amongst the rubbish as the council have been cleaning up the parks,” said Austin-Behan.

“It looks like they were just thrown into some nearby bushes and thankfully not smashed up or thrown into the canal as we thought might have happened.”

The plaques have now been returned to the family but won’t return to Gay Village

Manchester Council contacted Austin-Behan on Friday (15 October) about the plaques’ recovery and they have now been returned to the family.

There are no plans for them to return to Sackville Gardens, “but we will be working with them to find an alternative way of making a lasting tribute to Carl,” said Austin-Behan.

D’Arcy’s family and friends are ‘over the moon’ about their return. Shaun Lake added: “We didn’t think we’d ever find them so we are all so pleased to have them back.

“We’re really grateful for everything Carl has done and for everyone who has shared messages of support and tried to help us.

“They’re going to get repaired and stay at the family’s house so something like this doesn’t happen again.

“This has helped to raise some questions over where people can put plaques down safely in the Village and hopefully we will be able to see something created which everyone can use to come and remember people they’ve lost.

“If they do put something permanent up based on what happened, then actually it’ll be a way for all of us to move forward.

“Not just for Carl and his family, but for the wider good too who want to use that area as a memorial ground.

“There are people that come to Manchester and Canal Street to remember others so if we can get something put in place where people can contribute towards then what an amazing story and an amazing end to a pretty terrible situation.”

Related topics: Manchester

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