Family devastated as second memorial bench honouring son is destroyed
PUBLISHED: 12:31 01 September 2019 | UPDATED: 15:00 01 September 2019
A mother is heartbroken after a memorial bench placed in memory of her son in an Ipswich park was smashed to pieces - just months after the family's first memorial bench was destroyed.
Natalie Dryden, from Shotley, visited the bench regularly to remember her son David, who died in February 2011.
The 22-year-old's body was discovered close to Stoke Bridge in Ipswich after a missing person's appeal was launched by police.
Mr Dryden, described as a "lovely, courteous guy", is thought to have fallen in the river and drowned after having an epileptic fit, a condition he suffered with since the age of 14.
Soon after his death, a memorial bench was placed at the skate park near Stoke Bridge in his honour, a place for family and friends to spend a quiet moment reflecting on his life.
However, Ms Dryden said the skate park bench was destroyed earlier this year and needed to be replaced by a new bench in Bourne Park.
She said: "We discovered on the anniversary of his death in February that the skate park bench had been ripped off its foundations and burned with petrol.
"We approached Ipswich Borough Council and a new bench was put in Bourne Park, one of his favourite places in Ipswich.
"He had some great times with his sister in that park, he was 22 when he died and she was 17.
"It is a really special place."
But Ms Dryden, her partner Kevin Last and David's sister Alice were distraught after visiting the bench on Thursday, which would have been David's birthday.
She said she found his bench completely destroyed for a second time in a matter of months.
"It's in pieces," said Ms Dryden.
"It was a special bench built with a curve to it so you slouch slightly when you sit in it - just like David used to when he was chilling.
"It was engraved on the back too but that's all gone now."
She added: "Why would people do that? He was so loved and had so many friends.
"He was just the nicest bloke, he would never have done anything like this.
"There are no words for it really. We thought it would be safe in Bourne Park."
Since David's death, his mother had raised thousands of pounds for the Young Epilepsy charity, including taking part in a London Marathon.