Family shocked after disappearance of late father's memorial bench

Sue Slack's son and granddaughter on memorial bench in March

A memorial bench in memory of Richard Butcher disappeared and it is unclear who is responsible. Pictured are Nathan Slack, son of Sue Slack, Richard's daughter and her granddaughter Maia around five years ago. - Credit: Sue Slack

A woman said she is saddened after a memorial bench situated next to a river bank in memory of her late father was ripped out and removed. 

The bench was erected on West End, March near Richards Close in memory of Richard Butcher, which has been in place for around 20 years. 

His daughter Wendy said: “My father bought a property on West End; me, my mum and four sisters lived there for most of our childhood. 

“The land started to subside so my father decided to sell it to a company that went bust; it was then sold to Reason Homes and they developed the land."

Wendy’s husband Trevor, who maintains the bench, was told by a resident living nearby that it had gone missing on Tuesday. 

It is thought the bench may have been damaged the day before. 

“All the wood had been taken and thrown on the grass,” said Wendy. 

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“The next day, Trevor went with a friend to have a look and when he got there, the seat that Trevor concreted in was ripped out and nothing was left.” 

Richard used to grow the likes of strawberries and vegetables on a patch of land on the river bank, where his and his wife's ashes were scattered.

This is where the memorial bench in memory of Richard Butler was placed. It had been there for around 20 years.

This is where the memorial bench in memory of Richard Butler was placed. It had been there for around 20 years. - Credit: Dan Mason

Reason Homes and Fenland District Council (FDC) had agreed to erect two benches on this land near Richards Close, named after Richard, and a plaque was also installed. 

Wendy and family usually attend to the bench regularly, particularly at Christmastime, as well as other residents in the town. 

“So many people use it and remember my parents and the house,” she said. 

“Everyone knew my dad; he was a railway man; he drove trains and was always out in his garden. 

"It’s a peaceful part of March, and it seems such a shame that it has been taken away from people that use it."

This is where the memorial bench in memory of Richard Butler was placed. It had been there for around 20 years.

This is where the memorial bench in memory of Richard Butler was placed. It had been there for around 20 years. - Credit: Dan Mason

The family have contacted FDC to find out what happened to the bench and see if it can be replaced. 

March town and district councillor Jan French has also approached FDC for answers, to an incident that has shocked those close to Richard. 

“As the council put the first bench, we would assume they would replace it,” added Wendy. 

“It makes me wonder if it was the council doing it for safety reasons; it’s very saddening.  

“I don’t think it will be found and put back.”