'I'm very overwhelmed': Barking memorial bench replaced after suspected theft
PUBLISHED: 17:00 11 December 2019
via Michelle Grant
A woman has spoken of her relief that a memorial bench to her late father has been replaced after it went missing.
The council said the bench dedicated to John Bloom in Barking Abbey was "possibly stolen" in an email seen by the Post, adding it has no record of it being removed.
But a new marker for the beloved father is now in its rightful place - back in Barking Abbey.
Michelle Grant, 42, is John Bloom's daughter. Living in Dagenham, she visited the old bench to feel closer to him.
She went to the site when the bench was put in on Tuesday, December 10. It's bolted to the ground to prevent it going missing again. Ms Grant added she was told staff would be keeping an eye on the memorial.
"This bench is much thicker and more secure," she said.
"The engraving is lovely.
"My son was with me and we spent some time with the bench before it started to rain.
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"I'm very overwhelmed by it. I love it."
Mr Bloom, who was a decades-long caretaker for the council, died in 2013 aged 61. The bench was paid for by staff at Dagenham's Frizlands Lane Recycling Centre around 2014.
Ms Grant said she noticed the bench was gone on August 6. She was grateful to council staff for helping to get the replacement and from the support she received on social media: "It was amazing, I had a lot of people with me.
"People said how lovely the bench looks.
"I'm truly grateful to everyone who helped me."
Ms Grant is happy that she'll be able to mark what would have been her dad's 70th birthday at the site in 2021.
"It means a lot," she said, "because when I come into Barking I can go to the bench and feel like he's next to me.
"I feel his presence is there and I know he's beside me and listening."
Talking about the feeling when she saw the bench in Barking Abbey, she added: "I feel total relief.
"Dad's got his bench back where it belongs and I'll be making more visits."