A MEMORIAL dedicated to Ashley McKinnon is on the verge of becoming a reality as fundraising friends approach the target needed to create a bench in his honour.

In just two weeks, friends, led by Ashley’s former girlfriend Atlanta Holmes and her mother Paula, have raised £1,269, with £1,400 the final target.

Brunel Newsagents, of Havelock Square, has offered up the final £140 needed, but Paula is reluctant to take advantage given the shop’s generosity in already donating £200.

“He’s donated so much already, I said to him to hold on and see what the rangers at Queen’s Park say before I go back to him,” said Paula, of Manor Road.

“I don’t want him to keep donating after already giving so much already.”

Paula has appealed to staff at Queen’s Park, where the bench will be placed, for a final donation to take them to their target.

There is also a chance the money may come from an alternative source at the council, with Coun Stan Pajak (Lib, Eastcott) agreeing to meet Paula at the Civic Offices tomorrow.

Should council-backed rangers choose not to put up the final donation, Paula said she will go back to the newsagents and bring two weeks of dedicated fundraising to a close.

On Saturday, March 15 a group of 15 led by Paula and Atlanta called on the town centre’s shoppers for donations towards the bench.

More than £770 was raised as people showed their interest and support for the cause, which remembers Ashley, who fell from the top of Wyvern Car Park on February 13.

“We did another fundraiser in the town on Saturday and the kids were a bit disappointed. “We only ended up doing half a day because people were being quite narky with them,” said Paula.

“It’s called determination, though. That’s how we’ve done it.”

Paula put the newsagents’ generosity down to its relationship with Ashley.

Atlanta and their friends used to socialise in the vicinity of Havelock Square.

“I know he knew Ashley. All the kids used to hang around the statues near his shop and that was where they went to get their drinks and stuff,” she said.

It has now been more than six weeks since Ashley fell to his death at the age of 17, but Atlanta, 16, said her memories of him are what have driven her to get out amongst shoppers and ask for money.

She said her emotions have not changed and her loss has not become any easier to bear.

“I feel the same really,” she said. “I just miss him. He will never be far from my thoughts. I am so proud of all of us for raising what we have.

“Ashley was quite a popular person and that’s why so many have donated when asked.”