Memorial bench for man who died in Gosport lake accident

TRIBUTE Simon Burgess enjoyed feeding the swans at Walpole Park lakes
TRIBUTE Simon Burgess enjoyed feeding the swans at Walpole Park lakes
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FRIENDS of a man who drowned in a lake have raised enough money to put a lasting memorial in the park where he died.

Simon Burgess was found floating face down in the water at Walpole Park in Gosport in March last year.

Friends and former colleagues immediately set about raising money to put a bench near the lake where the 41-year-old fed the swans every day.

Now they have collected around £1,000 and a bench will be put in place on Monday.

It will be dedicated by the vicar of the Holy Trinity Church, Reverend Andy Davis.

The ceremony takes place at 10am.

Tina Pearce, the manager of Gosport’s Rose Road charity shop, where Simon used to work as a volunteer, said: ‘It’s a very appropriate place to put the bench because that was his favourite spot.

‘He would go down there every day if not more than that.

‘It is fantastic that everybody managed to raise this amount of money for the bench and I would like to thank those people.

‘I was taken aback by how willing people were to donate towards the fund.

‘Obviously he made an impression on everyone he met.

‘It will be a very emotional day.’

The cash was raised after several High Street shops banded together to start a fund.

Customers of the Rose Road charity shop, 147 Snooker Club, Pets Paradise and the Cottage Loaf Bakery helped raise the money which will pay for the memorial bench and engraved plaque with Simon’s name on.

As reported in The News, Portsmouth’s coroner David Horsley recorded a verdict of accidental death at an inquest in to Simon’s death.

His death sparked controversy after Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service was criticised for leaving Mr Burgess, of White Lion Walk in Gosport, in the lake while a specialist recovery team arrived from Fareham.

Firefighters said they believed he was already dead so didn’t go in.

The coroner said he would file a report with all three emergency services involved, recommending they improve their training.