A THIEF stole flowers planted especially to mark the centenary of World War One — at the exact same time the war started 100 years ago.

A “shadowy figure” stole the plants at 11pm on Monday, as people across the country were honouring those who died in the conflict, by turning out lights and putting out candles.

Cllr Graham Farrington had planted the flowers with his wife Shirley near their Blackrod home several months ago in a bid to have the display ready for the anniversary.

Cllr Farrington, who has helped to plant more flowers around the village, also built the wooden planters the flowers were in. He said: “I had just returned home from a meeting on Monday night when I heard the dog bark.

“I looked out of the window and saw a shadowy figure who looked like he was carrying a large holdall bag. He ran off down Scott Lane.

“I couldn’t believe it when I saw that it was the flowers that had been taken. At that time as well — it just shows an absolute lack of respect.”

The flower display, which included flowers such as geraniums and begonias, had been created in a red, white and blue formation to resemble the Union flag and to honour the British men who died in the war.

The theft was condemned by John Sawyer, of the Astley Bridge Legion club.

He said: “What can you say? It is clearly very disrespectful and upsetting.

“It is distressing to think that in the society we live in, people don’t have respect for those who fell in the war.

“It is sad and ironic that it happened at the exact time that war began 100 years ago.”

Cllr Farrington, who had paid about £100 for the flowers, added: “It’s not about the money we paid, it is about what this person or people have done and when they have done it — it is about what these flowers represent.

“The time they did it just shows they don’t have any respect for anyone or anything.

“I don’t know what the thief wanted to do with the flowers, but they won’t grow now.”