HEARTBROKEN parents have hit out at councillors who have asked them to remove flowers laid on a memorial bench for their late baby.
Natalie and Kevin Ellard from Whitnash lost their one-year-old son Ted in June to a heart condition.
A bench was dedicated to him following his death – on the town green on the corner of Whitnash Road and Murcott Road – on which members of the community often lay flowers. A balloon with his picture is tied and replaced every few weeks.
But the parents were devastated when they received a letter from Whitnash Town Council saying there had been numerous complaints about the ‘continuing addition of items’ to the bench and the surrounding area .
The letter acknowledged they wanted to created a lasting memory of Ted, but asked them to move the items ‘as soon as possible’.
It read: “It is completely understandable family and friends want to place commemorative items here but the town green is a public area and residents, especially the elderly and disabled, could use this bench to sit down while waiting for the bus or taking a breather to and from the shops.”
Natalie said: “It’s just one balloon and people sometimes leave flowers. As it’s Halloween, a pumpkin carved with Super Ted on it and another pumpkin filled with flowers have been left but that’s not usual.
“There’s still so much room to sit down and I’ve been told its dangerous because people slow down on a bend to look at it. Yet there are often information signs around the bench anyway designed to make people stop and look.
“Ted doesn’t have a grave so it is the only place where people can go to think about and speak to him.
“Parents take kids there and talk about it to them and reflect on their own losses. They love to leave little gifts there.”
Ted’s bench even has its own Facebook page on which people post pictures of the bench and are encouraged to decorate stones and write #TedsBench to see how far they travel. Some are left around the bench itself for children to find.
A petition has been set up to stop the removal of the tributes to Ted.
It has received more than 2,000 votes in just 24 hours and nearly 650 comments of support.
Natalie added: “We’ve not heard anyone complain, in fact the petition has made us realise just how many people love the bench and take their own kids there.”
In a letter of support a family friend wrote Ted’s bench helped her young son open up and ask questions about Ted’s illness and death he wasn’t able to before. She added the bench helped the community ‘to cope’.
And friend Lisa Dyte who set up the petition said: ” I am in full support of Ted’s bench. He is very, very special to our local community and it would be an absolute tragedy if these items have to be removed.”
Whitnash Town Council has refused to comment.