DISTRESSED Dudley churchgoers have been left in a state of disbelief following a series of thefts from their treasured prayer and memorial garden.

The green-fingered thieves have helped themselves to a number of items from St Augustine's Church in Holly Hall including trees, flowers, bulbs and rose bushes.

The items had all been planted in memory of loved ones and their disappearance has upset many of the congregation.

Rosemarie Plaister, who has been a member at St Augustine's church for over 24 years, said: "It's remarkable how low some people will stoop, the thefts have shocked everyone at the church.

"Many of the items taken have been donated by people who have lost loved ones and it means a great deal to them.

"We've informed the police but it must seem something quite trivial to them but it has upset so many people."

The thefts followed the departure of the at Augustine’s Rev Christine Browne who moved to take up a position in South Wales having been ordained earlier this year.

Rosemarie Plaister added: "She donated three lovely weeping willows to remember her by.

"Three weeks ago, two of them were taken. The following week, the third went missing."

The memorial garden is well established and situated close to the now vacant vicarage in Hall Church Road, where a sign now stands appealing for the return of the stolen plants.

In the meantime The Little Garden Centre in Stafford has offered to donate plants and replace those which have been stolen.

Rosemarie Plaister claimed: "It's a wonderful gesture and restores your faith in people".