‘LIFE is too short to be anything but happy’ are the words chosen to remember a young woman who died in a horror landslip on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast.
The message is engraved on a bench dedicated to the memory of 22-year-old holidaymaker Charl-otte Blackman, who died in July.
She was killed when a cliff collapsed on her near Burton Bradstock.
The tragedy led to the closure of beaches and the coast path and urgent investigations about the stability of the cliffs along the West Dorset coast.
Charlotte’s family from the Nottingham and Derby area made a special journey on Saturday to Freshwater Beach Holiday Park, near Burton Bradstock, where she spent her final days, to unveil the memorial and pay an emotional tribute.
Charlotte’s dad Kevin remembered a ‘lovely’ girl who he ‘was very proud of’.
He said: “She’s not down here with us anymore, but the bench is just to make people aware of where she was at the last point of her life.
“It’s near the playground, because she loved children, so it would be nice if families came to sit here.”
Pink and purple balloons – one for every year of her life – were released, and the relatives paused to remember their daughter, niece, sister and friend, as the balloons faded from sight.
Flowers were also laid at the bench, with butterflies, Charl-otte’s favourite animal, as a common theme.
The family had planned to leave tributes at the bottom of the cliffs which claimed her life, but changed their minds after a small landslip earlier that morning, a reminder of the unstable condition of the cliffs.
Mr Blackman said he plans to visit the bench every year.
He added: “I go down to her grave every morning, to keep it prim and proper, because that’s how she was. That’s the only thing I can do. It’s where I can be close to her.”
Charlotte, from Heanor, in Derb-yshire, had been studying to be a teacher, and volunteered in her spare time to work with autistic children.
She died in a landslip at Burton Bradstock beach. Her father and boyfriend Matt Carnell were also buried in the rubble, but rescuers managed to free them.
Charlotte’s body was recovered later after a search.
Matt’s sister Vicki Butler said she hoped the memorial would act as a warning. “We made the decision and ordered the bench before we left in July.
“It leaves a memory of her here and at least if the message gets out to even one person about the danger of the cliffs, it’s a good thing. It’s something positive.”
She added: “Charlotte was a beautiful person inside and out. You met her once and loved her.”
The family have requested that anyone who finds the balloons contacts them, stating their name and where it was found, by sending an email to info@charlot teblackmanmemorialfund.co.uk or sending by post to 12 Lichfield Close, Toton, Nottinghamshire, NG9 6JZ.
Trust fund in her name
CHARLOTTE’S family have set up the Charlotte Blackman Memorial Fund in her memory.
Sister Sinead said more than £2,000 has been raised so far through the sale of bracelets and events in their home town, with more planned for the near future.
She added: “It means a lot to try to carry on her memory. She has not died in vain if we can keep her memory going.”
All money raised will go towards helping autistic and vulnerable children, and the family hope enough will eventually be raised to pay for youngsters to go on holiday with their families.