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Council to replace stolen Barking bench commemorating father

PUBLISHED: 17:00 13 September 2019

Michelle Grant on the bench dedicated to her father, John Bloom. Picture: Michelle Grant.

Michelle Grant on the bench dedicated to her father, John Bloom. Picture: Michelle Grant.

Michelle Grant

The council is going to pay to replace a bench commemorating a beloved father after it was apparently stolen, emails seen by The Post show.

The bench dedicated to ex-council caretaker John Bloom. Picture: Michelle Grant.The bench dedicated to ex-council caretaker John Bloom. Picture: Michelle Grant.

The bench dedicated to John Bloom, who died at 61 in 2013, was discovered missing in August. With the council having no record of removing the bench, which was in Barking Abbey, it is presumed stolen.

Michelle Grant, Mr Bloom's daughter, was heartbroken when she found it was gone. Now the Dagenham 42-year-old hopes the place where she talks to her father will be restored.

"I was overwhelmed," she said. "I was overwhelmed with joy. It means a lot to me."

She previously visited the bench once a year on her father's birthday, but said she'll now visit up to four times a month, just to make sure it is still there. Michelle wants the bench to be secured this time, so it can't be taken again.

The space where the bench should be. Picture: Michelle Grant.The space where the bench should be. Picture: Michelle Grant.

"I want it to be somewhere I can talk to him. It's somewhere I can sit down and talk to my dad."

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She said she had tears of joy when she read the council's decision. It is expected the new bench will take around four to five weeks to be replaced.

Michelle, who lives with her husband and three children, said: "I'll be visiting it straight away. I can bring the kids around on the weekend.

Michelle Grant on the bench dedicated to her father, John Bloom. Picture: Michelle Grant.Michelle Grant on the bench dedicated to her father, John Bloom. Picture: Michelle Grant.

"I want to bring some flowers and just talk to the bench. It seems a bit mad, but it's my dad."

Mr Bloom worked as a caretaker for more than 30 years, and Michelle said, was loved around the borough. Staff at the Frizlands Lane Recycling Centre bought the bench in his memory in 2014.

Michelle is now hoping to hold an "opening ceremony" for the new bench once it's installed back in Barking Abbey. She's also glad the bench will be there for what would have been Mr Bloom's 70th birthday in 2021.

Michelle is planning to visit the bench for the occasion and then go to the The Victoria pub in Barking, one of Mr Bloom's favourite haunts.

Barking and Dagenham Council has been contacted for comment.

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