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Family's relief as memorial bench to stay put
A GRIEVING mother has told of her relief that her son’s memorial bench is no longer being moved for the Olympics.
A furore erupted when English Heritage, which is responsible for the beach by Portland Castle, contacted the family of the late David Hallett to discuss moving his commemoration bench.
David’s mother Debby Jolliffe felt ‘kicked in the stomach’ to hear the memorial bench at Black Barge on the edge of Portland Harbour was to make way for a marquee put up by the Danish Sailing Association during the Games.
But when the Dorset Echo contacted English Heritage, a spokesman said it was ‘no longer the case’.
The spokesman pledged the bench would remain in place and the family granted access, but revealed that temporary Olympic restrictions would close the area to the public.
Mrs Jolliffe, aged 42, of Underhill, said while the popular area should not be closed to bathers and boat owners during the Olympics, she was relieved her son’s memorial would remain untouched.
She said: “I feel relieved they actually realised it’s more than just a bench, it’s people’s emotions.
“It’s not exactly a victory but it sits better.
“I was told the memorial bench was going to be moved for the duration of the Olympics to make way for a marquee at the beach and that when it came back it wasn’t to be bolted down.
“It was like a kick in the stomach, we don’t have a gravestone, this is where David’s ashes were scattered and where his family and friends come to visit him.
“We chose to put the bench here because if I ever lost him, this is where he went.
“It’s a nice place for anybody to sit.”
Mrs Jolliffe said her ex-husband Roy Hallett had made arrangements to remove the bench today, before the U-turn decision was made.
David’s granddad Peter Ebdon feels ‘very sad and disgusted’ by all the upset and likened it to the threat of ‘removing a person’s grave’.
The English Heritage spokes-man said: “We were advised by the police to restrict access to the beach during the Olympics and that it be closed completely to swimmers and boats – there are restrictions on all the beaches in the Olympic area.
“Allowing a specific group to hire the beach was left as an option and so we were delighted that the Danish Sailing Association chose to use the beach as a base for their athletes and media.
“We could not afford to turn away such opportunities and the income we gain from letting the beach will go towards the upkeep of the castle.”
He added: “When the possibility arose that the bench might need to be temporarily removed, we alerted the father of the family to the situation and he agreed to it.
“This is, however, no longer the case, it will not be removed and the family can visit it throughout the Olympics.
“There are two other benches on the beach area of the castle – none of which will be removed.”
MECHANIC and pizza delivery boy David died on Portland at the age of 16.
He was fatally injured on December 27, 2008, when he swerved his moped to avoid injuring a pedestrian and went under an oncoming car.
His memorial bench is inscribed with the words:
‘In loving memory of David ‘Minty’ Hallett.
31/05/92 to 27/12/08
Your smile was wide
Your laugh was loud
With us in spirit
You made us so proud
Love always sweetheart’