Funeral director's generous gesture to widow Shelagh Jones after memorial bench upset
PUBLISHED: 06:30 09 November 2017
A funeral director has offered to create a new memorial for a widow after the bench she donated to Dereham was vandalised and removed.
Shelagh Jones was devastated to find that the bench, fitted with a plaque in memory of her late husband Malcolm, was no longer beside the Neatherd Moor pond.
The town council said it had been removed because it had been vandalised and no decision had been made as to whether it would be replaced.
The council spokesman said that as a donated bench it was not a permanant memorial which they were obliged to retain in perpetuity.
But Mrs Jones only found out about the bench’s removal when she went to visit it with relatives from Australia. She said the council should have had the courtesy and empathy to contact her about their decision.
After hearing the upset this caused, funeral director Lisa Warman from HH Aldiss in Dereham got in touch with Mrs Jones, through this newspaper, to offer a replacement free of charge.
She said: “It is a memorial marking someone’s death and I can understand why Mrs Jones would expect it to remain or be replaced.
“But the town council said the bench had been destroyed and that there was no plaque on it at the time. We understand that it was vandalised and was probably a health and safety risk so needed to be taken away but not to tell Mrs Jones was careless.
“We have offered her a birdbath, a garden memorial or a sundial which she can have in her garden with a replica plaque or engraving.”
Mrs Warman said she had asked her stonemason to come up with designs which she will ask Mrs Jones to choose from.
“We will get it made up for her and deliver it to her home in Norwich,” she said.
“We couldn’t get her bench back but she will have something to remember her husband by, and which she can take with her if she moves house.”
Mrs Jones said the generous gesture was “wonderful”.
She said: “I was really touched, I just can’t get over it.”
She added that she has since been contacted by the Dereham Mayor, Hilary Bushell, to say the council had tried to get in touch with her but only had a previous address.
It is expected to be raised at the next town council meeting.