Parent’s heartbreak as memorial tree to daughter, 11, snapped in half by vandals in Crouch End park

Loren Jai Coomber  (Family Handout)
Loren Jai Coomber (Family Handout)

The parents of a schoolgirl who died in an accident during lockdown have hit out at vandals who destroyed her memorial tree in a north London park.

Lockdown rules barred any chance of a proper funeral for Loren Jai Coomber, 11, after her tragic death in March 2020.

So her family planted a memorial tree at the spot where her father taught her to ride a bike as a youngster and which she affectionally termed the “Hill of Doom” in Priory Park, Crouch End.

The handkerchief tree, chosen to reflect Loren’s “kooky” personality, was planted behind a plaque by her grieving family as a place for “everyone who knew her, to remember her and the good times”.

But vandals struck over the weekend snapping the blossoming tree and leaving it “90 per cent destroyed”, according to the family.

The tree next to the ‘Hill of Doom’ (Supplied)
The tree next to the ‘Hill of Doom’ (Supplied)

Her father IT consultant Peter Coomber, 48, said: “She died in an accident at home in the early days of the first Covid lockdown.

“As a result, we had no proper funeral, no wake, no opportunity to celebrate her fabulous life with her friends. With cremation too, there is no grave.

“I cannot tell you how much it hurt, to see that tree snapped in half. Such thoughtlessness, such a callous lack of care - it was obviously a memorial tree.”

The memorial tree has been “90 per cent destroyed” according to the family (Supplied)
The memorial tree has been “90 per cent destroyed” according to the family (Supplied)

He begged those responsible to “think before acting” in the future, adding: “What might have been two seconds of drunken release or entertainment has huge consequences. Imagine having to explain to a 10-year-old boy that the tree he planted for his big sister has been deliberately destroyed by someone for ‘fun’. It’s not great.”

His wife Lucy added: “It hurts so much because it triggers all the wrong memories.

“These things are supposed to be about celebration and moving forward. Seeing them broken takes you right back to day one and awful memories that normally spend their time safely tucked away.”

Her father added: “I don’t know what we want to do next. We want the tree to grow back. We’ll let it. But, it’s very badly wounded, like us, and will take a long time to get back to where it should be.”

“The tree, and the bench which also sits in the park, were supposed to be a place for everyone who knew her, to remember her and the good times. The wording on the Hill of Doom plaque is so deliberate, it’s supposed to be a celebration, not ’in memoriam’.”

The family including Loren’s big sister, Bethan and little brother, AJ have been inundated with offers from locals to help revive the broken tree and are hatching plans to plant another one alongside to create an “Avenue on the Hill of Doom”.