The Press last week contained a lovely autumnal photograph of a swan paddling on the lake in Rowntree Park. Behind the swan is the park’s memorial lychgate and dovecote, draped in russet creeper.

The creeper is so luxuriant it looks as if it is blocking the access holes by which the resident doves enter and leave their dovecote. There used to be a large flock perched on the dovecote roof, peering out of the doveholes, and strutting around on the ground beneath the lychgate. When I was in the Park recently I felt there were far fewer doves than previously. On that day there was only one to be seen perching on the bridge parapet. The feathers on the back of its head were damaged, and one of its eyes was stuck closed by some unpleasant discharge.

If, as seems possible, this flock of doves is dying out, in this year of all years it is a tragedy. The flock is an integral part of the lychgate in the park which was given to the people of York on July 16, 1921, by Joseph Rowntree as a War Memorial.

Doves have lived in the dovecote in the roof of the lychgate for a hundred years as symbols of peace following war. As descendants of the original white doves, the surviving flock, or what is left of it, is a living connection with those installed in 1921 as symbols of its original purpose.

Please could someone look urgently into their living conditions and save those which are left before it is too late.

Alison Sinclair, Bishophill Junior, York