A FAMILY has pleaded for the return of a memorial stone following the sudden closure of a tourist attraction.

The family of much-loved grandmother Bessie Hudson paid for the memorial stone to be laid in her honour at Middlesbrough’s Nature’s World eco-centre.

It was placed in a ‘Memory Lane’ section of the 25-acre Natures World site, which recently went into administration, more than 16 years ago and lies alongside other stones, plaques and benches all placed in memory of loved ones.

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Mrs Hudson’s granddaughter, Sarah Hughes, said the family had made regular visits to Nature’s World and were dismayed to find the attraction had closed and was inaccessible to the public.

She said: “When I heard they were closing down, I was shocked. I take my little boy there a lot. I emailed them about the stone but nobody got back to me. We would like the stone back because it is like a treasure to us.

"I thought they would have contacted families to let us know what was happening and give us chance to get our stone back so that I could put it on my own path or give it to my mam.

“This is important to a lot of people. I think there will be a lot of families affected by this who will be wondering what is going to happen to their things.”

David Willis of BWC Corporate Recovery and Insolvency, who are expected to be appointed as administrators for Nature’s World, said: “If or when we are appointed, we would simply request any persons with plaques, stones or other assets at the site contact us and we will make arrangements to return them to their rightful owners where possible.”

Nature’s World, which closed following a struggle for funding, had been open since 1992 and was dubbed the North East’s pioneering eco-experience. Among its attractions were a £2m tropical greenhouse and a River Tees Trail, which explored the history of the river Tees and Middlesbrough.