On a sandy ridge in the High Weald of East Sussex is a beautiful woodland. A Norman deer hunting forest, today Ashdown Forest is visited by walkers and those seeking the places that inspired AA Milne and the Winnie-the-Pooh stories. Ashdown Forest is a stunning combination of woodland primarily made up of sweet chestnut, hazel, alder, silver birch, oak and Scots pine and open heathland with heather and low-growing shrubs.
It was a sunny early spring day when we climbed out of our campervan to explore this natural area. Finding this memorial bench to Luke Power, 20, from Turners Hill, and Tom Dawes, 19, from Forest Row, I wanted to know more about these two young men. Luke Power and Thomas Dawes were both motorcyclists who very sadly died following a collision with a Range Rover at Chuck’s Hatch on the B2026 at its junction with Wren’s Warren on Sunday 14 September 2014.
Linda Dawes, the mother of Tom Dawes movingly said, ‘Life goes on but Thomas will never be forgotten. He will always be loved and in our hearts and thoughts forever. He was born to be wild.’
The death of Luke Power and Tom Dawes at such a young age clearly devastated their family and also touched their friends. The memorial bench I stumbled upon was erected following a collection at a memorial football match between a team of Sackville School teachers, led by Luke’s brother, and a team from the Forest Row Football Club. The match raised the money to erect the bench near the spot where the two young men died.
Local bikers and friends arranged a memorial ride on a glorious September day. One friend posted photographs on Facebook and paid tribute to the two bikers, writing, ‘If Tom Dawes and Luke Power could have been in there today they would’ve been in their element! Such a lovely day and an amazing turnout. Rest In Peace Boys.’ The photographs show a banner, ‘We ride together, We die together, Burn rubber not your soul, Our ‘Lukey’ Our ‘Tom’ see you in your garage.’ The number of people at the event show how loved and missed the two are.