Memorial plaques thought to have been stolen from a park in the Gay Village have been found amongst rubble and rubbish collected by council cleaners.

In September, two plaques in memory of Carl D’Arcy, a man who ‘lived and breathed Manchester’, were removed from Sackville Gardens.

Carl, 37, from Rochdale, died in February 2019 and his family decided to place the tributes in the park as the Gay Village had played a significant part in his life.

Read more: These Manchester parks have been named some of the best in the country

Placed two years ago, the plaques became a spot for Carl’s friends and family to visit and remember him.

“When he passed away, his family felt it was appropriate to spread his ashes where he was most known,” friend Shaun Lake told the M.E.N.

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.”

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Originally thought to have been stolen, the plaques have now been found amongst a pile of rubbish and rubble collected by Manchester Council.

Carl Darcy

Carl Austin-Behan, Manchester’s LGBT Advisor and a member of the Friends of Manchester's Gay Village group, has been assisting the family with trying to track the plaques down.

“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,” Carl told the M.E.N.

“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.”

Carl was contacted by Manchester Council on Friday (October 15) about the discovery and he has since returned them to the family.

He added: "As soon as the council contacted me to let me know they had found them, I went to pick them up and took them round to the family so that they could have them back.

“I’ve advised them not to return the plaques back to Sackville Gardens but we will be working with them to find an alternative way of making a lasting tribute to Carl.”

Carl's memorial plaques were situated in Sackville Gardens

Friend Shaun said Carl's family were 'over the moon' that the plaques have been returned to them.

"We didn't think we'd ever find them so we are all so pleased to have them back," Shaun said.

"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."

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