Bench is dedicated in park to teenager
5:30am Friday 16th May 2014 in By Beren Cross, @BerenCross
A BENCH dedicated to the memory of Ashley McKinnon in Queen’s Park is already inspiring strangers to look up his name and find out who he was – and it’s not even fixed in place yet.
Ashley’s former girlfriend Atlanta Holmes and her mother Paula have been raising money to secure the bench for the past two months, and it is now ready to be secured in the town centre park.
A group of 10, including Atlanta and Paula, spent the day labouring in the sun, preparing the ground and laying cement for the bench, but while it stood vacant it was not short of attention.
“We came back from lunch and found there was a man sat on it,” said Paula, of Manor Road. “The gentleman had just seen it in the park and sat on it.
“He Googled Ashley’s name and when he saw the stories he was full of sympathy when we approached him.
“Another bloke caught sight of it too and he already knew about the bench, but wanted to talk to us about it all.
“I was absolutely shocked to see someone sat on it, but it was really nice that he had already looked up Ashley’s name.”
On March 15, a group of 15 went into the town centre to begin their fundraising for the bench.
More than £770 was raised as people showed their interest and support for the cause, which remembers Ashley, who fell to his death from the top of the Wyvern Car Park on February 13.
Efforts eventually pulled in the full £1,400 required, which covered the bench, its plaque, its place in the park and the materials needed to put it in place.
While the cement was wet, Atlanta left her hand print in the mixture, which will set over the next day before the bench is finally bolted to the floor tomorrow.
The entire process has been a form of closure for Ashley’s friends, including Atlanta, who struggled to even walk into the park yesterday.
“Atlanta took a long time to go into Queen’s Park. It took an hour to get her out of the car and into the park, because that’s where they always used to go together,” said Paula.
“Everybody was talking about him as we worked yesterday. The weather was beautiful and we all said Ashley had done that for us.
“It definitely gave us a bit more closure. We still have to wait until the end of the summer for the inquest, but this has been a step forwards.”
The plaque on the bench reads: “Ashley McKinnon, 1996 – 2014. ‘Loyalty makes family.’ All our love, your girlfriend and friends.”
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