Town's 'Diana Style' Show Of Grief For Dead Albino Rodent

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Beside the grave lie gifts, flowers and heartfelt messages, some in verse. A tribute page on the social networking site Facebook has attracted more than 250 members.And the cause of this remarkable outpouring of grief? Albi the albino squirrel is no more.Albi, also known as Snowy or Percy, fell foul of a hit-and-run driver outside the churchyard where he used to live and play in Dorking, Surrey.

Dozens of tearful mourners have made the pilgrimage to his grave in a flower bed and turned it into a shrine to their ‘light that has gone out’.Cards, flowers and bags of nuts surround the small wooden cross which marks the spot where his body lies.One message reads: ‘Bye my beautiful albino squirrel. Miss you. I will always remember you forever. Rest in peace. Love you.’

Another reads: ‘We can’t believe you’ve gone little friend. ‘Everyone loved to see you running in the churchyard with your fellow – but grey – squirrels. We will not forget you.’One mourner has brought a bathroom tile to the grave on which is scratched the words: ‘Albi no more.’And a poem on a card laments his ‘untimely death’ at the hands of an ‘evil driver’.

Only one in 100,000 squirrels is an albino. Since he appeared about two years ago Albi had become such a celebrity that his fans would wear white squirrel costumes at fancy-dress parties.
After his death the Dorking Advertiser printed a tribute feature where readers were invited to send in their pictures of him.Lou Gardey was one of the first on the scene following the accident. She buried Albi in St Martin’s churchyard so he could ‘have some dignity’.

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‘Someone had just run over him and left him lying in the road,’ she said. ‘I went to get a bag for him and borrowed a spade. We made a little grave for him with a little wooden cross. He was so special – I thought he was something out of a fairy tale.’The children adored him and there were always squeals of delight when they spotted him. It was like a little fantasy land to walk through the churchyard and see this gorgeous creature.

‘We all gave him nuts and food and now it is as if a little light has gone out. It is very sad and has taken some magic away from our lives, which we all need.’Elaine Wilson, 49, said: ‘I went with the lady and we found someone with a spade and we took him off the road.’Just as we were burying him a woman with two children walked past and said, “We might see him”. I felt bad telling her the news.’

However, Dorking is not unanimous in its grief. Some of the comments on the Facebook site suggested the squirrel was to blame for jaywalking, with one, from ‘Kevin’, saying: ‘He should have joined the Tufty Club and learned the Green Cross Code.’

And a friend of a woman visiting the grave remarked: ‘Everyone’s getting worked up about this, but I don’t understand it. It’s like the squirrel was Princess Diana or something.’A few elderly people have been knocked down and killed by cars just down the road and you don’t see a shrine for them.’

Mother-of-four Juliet Grant, 33, added: ‘I think it is a bit over the top and I was surprised to see so many tributes. At the end of the day, it is just a squirrel.’A Surrey Police spokesman said they were not looking for anybody in relation to Albi’s death.



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