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Housing association clears Erith garage of £30,000 of treasured memorabilia
A TRADESMAN has been left "devastated" after a housing association mistake saw his Erith garage emptied of treasured family memorabilia dating back to the war.
In a hoard worth more than £30,000, Lee Ricketts says he has also lost two motorbikes and the tools he used for work since training as an apprentice aged 16.
The 45-year-old is still paying £10.49 a week to rent the garage in Reddy Road from Orbit South housing association, as he has done for more than 20 years.
But he was stunned when a mix-up over the numbering system used on the garages saw the housing association rent out his garage to another tenant - and dispose of all his possessions.
The Bexleyheath resident told News Shopper: "I’m feeling absolutely devastated.
"There are letters from when my dad was courting with my mother since he was 16.
"There were letters between them from when he was in national service and my great-grandfather’s parchment papers when he was released from the army.
"The two motorcycles I have had since I was 18 and I don’t really know what they are worth - I can’t find anything on them on the internet."
The tradesman added: "If they can do that to me they can do that to anyone."
Two motorbikes worth at least £3,000 each were also lost during the clearance while the tools Mr Ricketts uses for his work, valued at more than £5,000, are now gone.
He said: "I have had these tools since I was 16 when I was an apprentice.
"They were my tools from when I was a kid.
"I emptied my bag out into the garage when I went on holiday in June because I didn’t want to leave them in the van.
"But then someone comes along and makes a mistake and it is all wiped out.
"No one put their hands up and said 'sorry this is what happened'.
"They don’t know who took it and we haven’t even had the opportunity to look in the garage."
Orbit South’s head of neighbourhoods Anne Brighton said: "We have been in contact with Mr Ricketts and we are currently looking into the matter."
Items that were taken include:
- Letters sent to Mr Ricketts’ father by his mother, while he was doing national service
- Mr Ricketts’ mother’s grandfather’s army release papers
- Photos of his mother and father together as teenagers
- Records of when Mr Ricketts’ mother was evacuated to Wales from Erith during the war
- Memorabilia relating to Mr Ricketts’ father’s brother, who died in the Second World War
- Four boxes containing 1,000 pig skin hides - £18,000
- Tools including a concrete breaker, grinder and a saw - total £5,000
- Two 1970s Honda motorbikes - £3,000 each
- Mountain bike - £400
- Gramophone - £150
- Henry hoover - £106
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