Friends and family who raised money for the installation of memorial benches for two Abergavenny men have been left “angry” and “upset” after a complaint was made against the benches and vandals stole items from them.

The family of Damion Welch who died on July 20 2021 raised money to design and put up a memorial bench which was installed in Linda Vista Gardens in October last year.

Sadly this year Damion’s childhood friend Nathan Davies – who helped contribute towards Damion’s bench – died on March 2 after being found unresponsive at Abergavenny bus station.

Following Nathan’s death, family and friends contributed towards another memorial bench which was completed recently, and sits poignantly alongside his friend Damion.

The benches have provided great comfort and solace to those who were close to Damion and Nathan, with Damion’s family recently spending time by the benches in Linda Vista Gardens to mark the one-year anniversary of his death.

However sadly the families - who regularly leave photos and flowers along with special plants and lights – have been dismayed to find that family photos have been taken and other items left vandalised and destroyed.

Speaking to the Chronicle, Damion Welch’s mother Mandy said: “It is hard to believe people would be so disrespectful and malicious as to take photos and vandalise plants that have been left by benches. It is very upsetting for us as a family.”

This also comes after Damion Welch’s mother Mandy recently received a phone call from Monmouthshire County Council claiming a complaint had been made to them that the benches are not made of recycled materials.

Having sought and been granted permission to install the memorial benches from the council, there will no intervention to remove the benches, which Mandy admits is a great relief to family and friends.

Speaking to the Chronicle, Mandy Welch said: “I also had a phone call from someone from the council the other day letting me know of the complaint, to be fair the council have been marvellous and told us not to worry about it, but it is not nice for us as family and friends and we urge whoever it is who complained to please just leave us to remember our loved ones.”

Having raised money for the benches in memory of Damion and Nathan, friends and family also helped build and install the benches with some having worked in construction and having the tools accessible to design and erect the benches which proudly sit at the top of Linda Vista Gardens overlooking the garden area.

Mandy now hopes that by raising awareness of some of the damage and vandalism caused by the benches, that people who visit Linda Vista Gardens will be more mindful and aware of any potential vandalism near the benches.

Mandy added: “A lot of hard work went into the benches and we are delighted with how they have come out, it is a perfect tribute to the boys.

They are in a lovely spot within the gardens and have not only been put there for family and friends, but also as a place where everyone can go and quietly reflect.

‘‘A lot of the volunteers who help out in Linda Vista have very kindly offered to keep an eye out but it is difficult without CCTV to monitor the site.

‘’We would just like to ask people to be mindful and respect the surroundings and be aware if any vandalism or damage occurs.”