A MEMORIAL bench in Malvern Link to a soldier who was killed during the First World War has been completely refurbished to mark the centenary of his death.
The bench, at the corner of Church Road and Lower Howsell Road, was unveiled at a special ceremony on Monday, April 10, 100 years to the day after Private Norman Sayer was killed at the battle of Vimy Ridge in 1917.
It was believed to have been originally installed in the 1930s by Pte Sayer's mother, who lived locally.
After the bench was found to be in serious need of repair in 2015, handyman Jon Burgess offered to carry out the necessary work for free,
And at last week's ceremony, the bench was officially handed over to Malvern Town Council, which will maintain it in the future.
Link councillor Paul Tuthill welcomed everyone and thanked everyone for their efforts, before Rev Peter Knight of St Matthias Church blessed the memorial.
Anthony Hartley-Woolley read the letter from Pte Sayer’s platoon commander to his mother and recited the Kohima epitaph.
And among the special guests at the ceremony was Major Dan Gutoskie from the Canadian Army, in which Pte Sayer served during the First World War. He spoke of the courage and sacrifice made by the Canadian divisions as they took Vimy Ridge from German forces.
Mr Burgess said: "It wasn't just me; a lot of people put in a lot of time and effort to make this possible to make this happen, and I'm very grateful to them all.
"It was especially good that the major from the Canadian Army was able to attend the ceremony."
The plaque reads: In memory of Norman Casswell Sayer, killed at Vimy Ridge, France, April 10, 1917.
Mr Sayer was born in Cannock, Staffordshire, to a farming family, in 1887. He and his sister Isabella left England for Nova Scotia, Canada, in 1904, as part of the Homes for Children scheme and he became a farmer. In 1915 he enlisted for war with the 10th Canadian Mounted Rifles.
In April 1917, he was part of a regiment tasked with capturing Vimy Ridge, France, where he was killed in battle. He is buried along with his comrades at the Vimy cemetery.
It is not known when his mother relocated to Malvern. It is believed she reverted to her maiden name.
BENCH PARTICIPANTS by Jon Burgess:
The people mentioned below contributed willingly and without reward to get this memorial back to a good state of repair. Their effort made everything possible, they cannot be thanked enough.
This bench will now be held in trust by Malvern Town Council, for the rest and reflection of those who pass by.
Mark Walker: he supplied and prepared the boards, cut from a 250-year-old oak tree on his land.
Peter Bancroft: who worked with Mark Walker to get the timber ready.
Daniel James: local blacksmith, he provided expert guidance in metal restoration.
Grant Morgan: the blacksmith who repaired the bench in 1988. In 2017 he gave materials and lent his machinery.
Brian Henderson: painter and decorator, he supplied the materials and painted the metalwork.
Dr Bruce Roscoe: loan of a generator, workshop space and provision of materials.
Paul Sadler: he provided lots of labour and support during the whole project.
Andy Davis: County Powder Coating, who shot-blasted away all the old paint and rust.
Martin Hunt, Rob Deri and the workforce from the Highways Depot, Newland: They planned, oversaw and constructed the new plinth.
Dominic Halliday of Malvern Electroplating.
John and Heather Burgess: who presented the cast iron poppy, a copy of the porcelain poppies exhibited in the moat at the Tower of London.
Dave Nash: manager at Travis Perkins tool hire, made a valued contribution of materials on behalf of the company.
Linda Burgess: my wife, who kept me going to finish the task - failure was never an option.
Myself - Jon Burgess: I thought of the project in the first instance and was determined to see it through.