Sir – As you reported in the issue of the Witney Gazette dated Wednesday, November 18, one of the memorial oak trees planted on the Leys in November 2014 by Churches Together in Witney, was vandalised this year on the same day that the remembrance service was held.

Naturally, one’s first reaction to this apparently mindless act is one of disgust. However, our second thoughts are to ask why those youths who carried it out did what they did? I think that we are justified in concluding that the perpetrator(s) were deeply unhappy in themselves. Surely no one attempts to destroy a beautiful young tree if they are at peace with themselves and with the world around them.

It is natural for young people to be competitive and, up to a point, it is a good thing for society to applaud their successes. However, in any competition, if there are winners there have to be losers too. We are familiar with seeing the broad smiles on the faces of winners as they stand in public view to receive their prizes but generally we do not see those of the losers.

If one is always a loser it is surely natural for one to reject the standards that define one as a failure.

Now we are not all equally talented, neither physically nor intellectually so it is inevitable that in competition some will perform brilliantly while others do not. Unless we wish to raise a cohort of vandals we shall not undervalue those who are less able than their peers.

It is notable that 43 per cent of men in prison were excluded from school as children and that each prison place costs the taxpayer about £40,000 per year.

Don Mason
Larch Lane