Devizes tribute bench to son is condemned as ugly

This Is Wiltshire: Harry Dodds Harry Dodds

The mother of a Devizes teenager who died from a brain tumour says she is upset that the design of a bench in his memory is ugly and reminiscent of something you would find at a bus stop.

Jackie Dodds, whose 15-year-old son Harry lost his brave fight against cancer in May, has written to town councillor Jim Gudgeon, who sits on the Devizes and Roundway Joint Burial Committee, describing her distress at the lack of choice available to bereaved people who want to commemorate their loved ones in the traditional way.

Mrs Dodds, of Brickley Lane, wrote that she had been sent details of the new benches that the committee has approved. But she said: “However, these new benches are ugly. They don’t even have any arms on them. In my opinion I don’t feel that these benches are suitable for a cemetery. They look like they belong in a bus shelter.

“I do feel that the town council have not put grieving relatives’ feelings into account when they chose this particular bench. It may be easier to maintain but considering that it is the relatives that actually pay over £480 for the benches then perhaps they should have had a consultation about this first. This has upset me very much as I would like to sit and think of my son when I go to his grave and feel that these benches would make me feel like I am waiting for a bus. I’m not happy about putting a memorial plaque on this type of bench.”

A report to this evening’s meeting of the committee laid out the problems of non-standardisation of benches. It said: “A policy of enabling members of the public to purchase their own benches resulted in quality issues and a wide variety of styles. The cheaper benches also became unstable quickly and in some cases had to be removed. In an effort to standardise the benches in the cemetery, officers sourced benches from a local supplier and offered these to members of the public including a five-year maintenance contract.

“Unfortunately, quality issues were the result and a higher resource implication was the outcome.”

Councillors will decide this evening whether to allow Mrs Dodds to purchase a bench that is to the liking of herself and her family.

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