Memorial benches are in the news, not a phrase I ever expected to write on this blog. The memorial bench for Archie Thomas was placed in Port Isaac following his death at just 15-years of age in 1985. In December 2016 the bench was caught by heavy waves and washed away in to the sea. Fortunately, this story has a happy ending as rather than being lost in the ocean the bench was washed up on the Saunton Beach in North Devon; miraculously surviving a trip along the Cornish and Devon coastline. Kathryn Challis found the bench while walking on the beach on New Year’s Day this year, took photographs and enlisted a friend to help her move it to her home.
Kathryn Challis understood how important memorial benches are to families and shared the story of the bench on Facebook to try and find the family of Archie Thomas. With the help of social media and local newspapers the story reached Worcester and people who knew Archie Thomas’ family and very soon the boy’s father and sister were found.
Unfortunately, the storm at Port Isaac in December 2016 took a total of three memorial benches but only Archie Thomas’ bench has been recovered and returned to Port Isaac. The plaque on the bench remembering Archie Thomas reads;
IN MEMORY OF
1969 – 1985
HE LOVED THIS PLACE
This lovely story has now also made the national news and it was the Guardian article that alerted me to the tale. Jasper Rees’ article starts, ‘no one talks about memorial benches much’, well of course here on this blog I talk about them all the time!