Mum’s joy at bench donation

Michele Johnson

Michele Johnson

First published in News by

A Portland mum who faced a huge bill to replace a memorial bench for her late daughter has had a surprise donation from Jurassic Rocks.

Michele and Andy Johnson tragically lost their 14-year-old daughter Jess in 2006.

The Dorset Echo revealed council workers had removed Jess’s bench from its spot overlooking Chesil Beach after it was destroyed by vandals, charging the family more than £745 to replace it.

Glen Chadwick, pictured below, organiser of the Jurassic Rocks music festival on Portland, chose the memorial bench fund as one of the local causes the festival would donate ticket proceeds to this year.

The music festival will now pay for the full cost of the bench in what the family have called an ‘amazing’ move.

Mr Chadwick, who is also a Portland councillor, said: “As a human being, how can you not want to help them out? The family had to go through the grief of losing their daughter, and the vandalism of the bench, and then they were charged for the cost of it. It’s about them more than anything else. It’s a small thing for us to do when it’s such a big problem for them.”

Speaking about Michele and Andy’s experience, he added: “I really think the council could have done something about the costs. There should be some flexibility, some compromise.”

Mr Chadwick said: “We invited the family up to the festival after we told them we'd pay for the bench so they could raise funds for the maintenance costs, which I understand they have to pay for even after the bench is put in.”

He wants to move forward quickly with completing the installation of the bench, and will be in touch with the family next week before speaking to the council to arrange for the new bench to be purchased and put in.

Mrs Johnson said she had a ‘big message’ of thanks for all those supporting them by raising funds.

She said: “I was speechless when Glen said the festival was going to fund the new bench. It’s absolutely fantastic. I’m really looking forward to seeing the new bench get installed, not just for the family but for people who come down and sit on it, it’s really nice.”

Mrs Johnson is still raising cash for the future maintenance of the bench. One local business, Fortuneswell Co-operative, has set up a collection in store and managed to raise over £100 in just over a week.

To donate via PayPal, the email address is jessbenchmemorial@ outlook.com or visit the Facebook page titled Jess Memorial Bench, which include details on how to do this. Alternatively, you can email torieledger@hotmail.co .uk, call 07821 161 482 or leave a comment on the Facebook page.

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