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Granddaughter’s fundraiser for stolen memorial bench

PUBLISHED: 06:00 23 August 2020

Sami Loton with boyfriend Chris Plumbley  is fundraising to buy a new bench for her dad's birthday in memory of his mum, after the previous memorial bench was stolen  Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Sami Loton with boyfriend Chris Plumbley is fundraising to buy a new bench for her dad's birthday in memory of his mum, after the previous memorial bench was stolen Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Charlotte Bond

A granddaughter is fundraising to replace a memorial bench eight years after it was ripped from the ground.

Graham Loton pictured in 2015 at the place in Whitlingham Country Park where he wants to put a bench in memory of his mum. Picture: ANTONY KELLYGraham Loton pictured in 2015 at the place in Whitlingham Country Park where he wants to put a bench in memory of his mum. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Sami Loton, an architect from Attleborough, hopes to raise £1,200 for another bench in tribute to her grandmother at Whitlingham County Park.

A bench was originally purchased by her father, Graham Loton, from Trowse, in 2012, but was stolen shortly afterwards.

Sami Loton is fundraising to buy a new bench for her dad's birthday in memory of his mum, after the previous memorial bench was stolen  Picture: CHARLOTTE BONDSami Loton is fundraising to buy a new bench for her dad's birthday in memory of his mum, after the previous memorial bench was stolen Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

It had been a “special and personal” place for Mr Loton to remember his mother, Elsie Weeden, who died in her early fifties from motor neurone disease when he was 15.

Miss Loton, 32, said: “We were all absolutely in shock when the bench was stolen. We couldn’t believe someone would be so mindless and cruel. It knocked our faith in humanity.

Sami Loton is fundraising to buy a new bench for her dad's birthday in memory of his mum, after the previous memorial bench was stolen  Picture: CHARLOTTE BONDSami Loton is fundraising to buy a new bench for her dad's birthday in memory of his mum, after the previous memorial bench was stolen Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

“For my Dad, this bench was a representation of his mother’s grave as he didn’t have a fixed place to give thanks to her memory. He chose Whitlingham as it was a place of calm and peacefulness.”

After the bench was stolen, Mr Loton, now in his 60s, who runs Elm Hill Brides in Norwich with his wife Joanna, launched two appeals to recover the bench.

“But no-one came forward and the bench has never been found,” Miss Loton said. “And years have passed and my Dad keeps meaning to do something about it but hasn’t got round to doing it yet.”

Now, though, Miss Loton, with the help of her partner Chris Plumbly, 33, an engineer, hopes to replace the bench through a fundraiser in time for father’s birthday on Monday.

But she has kept the campaign a secret from her father in order to surprise him.

She said: “I thought this year I’m going to make a change as eight years have passed and it would be nice to do it in time for his birthday.

“So far, I’ve run a campaign on my social media and I’ve had people from across the world donate and say they have been touched by the story.

“It’s been a bit difficult to hide the campaign away from my Dad, but I’ve told all of his friends to keep quiet.

“It would really mean the world for him to have a new bench. He still goes to the same spot to remember her but, as it is empty, it’s also still a cruel reminder of that senseless act.”

To donate visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/elsiesbench


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