Heartbreak as memorial seat is vandalised

HEARTBROKEN James Kemp returns to the spot in Southsea where a bench commemorating the life of his late wife Susan as wrecked by vandals. He is holding plaques from the bench for his wife and father-in-law. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (131977-5)
HEARTBROKEN James Kemp returns to the spot in Southsea where a bench commemorating the life of his late wife Susan as wrecked by vandals. He is holding plaques from the bench for his wife and father-in-law. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (131977-5)
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Vandals destroyed a bench in memory of a Royal Navy veteran’s late wife.

James Kemp bought a memorial to go on Eastern Ramparts, Southsea, in remembrance of his wife Susan after she died 15 years ago.

But now the 74-year-old is devastated after Portsmouth City Council’s parks service rang him to say they found it smashed up and beyond repair.

Memorial plaques on the bench about Susan and her father Richard Andrewartha – added in 2003 – were left intact and sent back to Mr Kemp.

It’s not known who carried out the attack, but the matter is now in the hands of the police.

Mr Kemp, a former Petty Officer Physical Training Instructor who served in the navy for 25 and a half years, said: ‘I’m devastated.

‘There are grandchildren who would have gone on that bench.

‘We as a family were all going to put our names on there.

‘My sister-in-law lives in Australia and every time she comes over she goes to sit on it and admire the views.

‘I wanted a bench put there because Susan and I enjoyed walking there together. It’s such a lovely place to be.’

Mr Kemp said he probably won’t get another bench fitted as the one that was previously there cost him £700.

‘I have a bench in the back garden so I might put the plaques on there,’ he said.

‘I can’t blame the parks service at all.

‘I’m sure that if it was possible it would have put the bench back together.

‘The staff let me come in and collect what was left of it.’

Police are appealing for people who know anything about what happened to come forward.

A Hampshire Constabulary spokesman said: ‘We can confirm we received a report of criminal damage to a memorial wooden bench on Clarence Esplanade, Southsea.

‘The damage was reported to have happened sometime between Monday, July 1 and Tuesday, July 2.’

Anyone with information can call police on 101.

Alternatively, call the independent Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111 if you wish to remain anonymous.