School unveils friendship bench in memory of former pupil Ben Pocock

Published on: 07 Aug 2015

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by Rebecca Day

Positivity, fun and friendship – these are the words carved into a new school bench, commemorating local student Ben Pocock, who tragically died in the Malaysian Airlines disaster over Ukraine last year.

The “Friendship Bench” was unveiled at a dedication service at St John’s CEVC, the primary school Ben attended when he was a youngster.

Family and friends at the ceremony said that the bench perfectly summed up Ben, who is remembered for his fun-loving nature and making friends wherever he went.

Ben – a second year student at Loughborough University – was travelling to Australia to spend six months at the University of Western Australia as part of his international business management degree.

Jeremy Pocock, Ben’s father, said: “We’re absolutely delighted with the bench – a truly impressive piece of work.

“We’re so pleased that the school thought of Ben as he spent seven very happy years here.

“He would have been absolutely thrilled to know that it had been done.”

Louise Pocock, Ben’s mother, said: “The wording sums up everything about Ben. The bench means a lot, because Ben was really happy here.”

Matthew Bromwich, who had been friends with Ben since they attended St John’s together, said: “It’s reflective of how people remember Ben – everywhere we’ve been people remember him.”

The ceremony was also attended by B&NES chairman Councillor Ian Gilchrist and Reverend Stephen McCaw.

Cllr Gilchrist said: “Although I did not know Ben personally, I know that he had lots of friends, a great sense of fun and a love of sport.

“His parents always mention his fun-loving side – and that's what brings people together as friends.”

Rev McCaw said: “Ben had an extraordinary gift of friendship – he would collect friends wherever he went, so it's only appropriate to remember him with a friendship bench.

“May it be a place where friendships are made and enjoyed.”

The bench, which took a wood carver three days to create, was a request from children at the school, who wanted somewhere they could sit quietly, away from the playground. The
design is an amalgamation of ideas, contributed by St John’s pupils.

Head teacher Dr Matthew Cottrell said: “We ran a design competition across the whole school, but the designs were so fabulous, we couldn’t pick one over the other, so we commissioned a wood carver, who took the designs and used recurrent themes.

“The idea to commemorate the bench to Ben came about after a meeting with a group from the St John’s congregation. One of the members said, as it was coming up to the anniversary of Ben Pocock’s death, wouldn’t it be a nice idea to dedicate the bench to him.”

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