Shelia Cook tells us about her experience of placing a bench on the Regent's Canal in memory of her husband Reg.
My husband used to work for the Central Electricity Generating Board and a 400kV cable runs under this canal path. When it was being built he was instrumental in working on it – he was a physicist. He spent many months up here along this stretch.
I think this part is particularly lovely because you’ve got the lock, which opens up into the basin. You can see people sitting down enjoying themselves with their picnics, particularly in summer. There are mums, dads and grandparents pushing their buggies, joggers, cyclists, and people ambling along enjoying the time of day – not to mention life on the canal itself! It just seemed the logical thing to place a bench here. It’s so interesting, fascinating and beautiful.
I didn’t want a memorial in a cemetery. Not that I have anything against cemeteries at all – but I wanted something I could go to regularly, something that was tangible and, to put it bluntly, that I could park myself on! It’s something practical, something useful and, with the plaque, it’s so personal. Reg loved water and I always thought I would get his approval with this bench.
I walk past this spot almost every day. My daughter lives nearby and I take my grandchildren to school, which is at the back of the bench, on Monday to Thursdays.”
All water to me is precious, but this bit is particularly precious because of the connection to Reg and my family. Water has always been important to me. We lived by the seaside for a number of years and Reg used to row on the River Thames and River Cam. We both have a deep attraction to water. To honour him in this way is very special and felt right.
I feel very pleased when I see others enjoying it. I feel Reg would be pleased too because he was a great one for things being useful, practical and to share. I do feel slightly possessive about it, but I’m absolutely delighted when I see people sitting on it and enjoying it. They look happy and content and I think that’s a lovely memorial for somebody - to feel you’ve left behind something that people who never knew who you were get some pleasure and use from.”
I told my daughters, because obviously I wanted their opinion. They were delighted: “Mum that’s a lovely idea. Dad would be so pleased.” That told me everything. It’s not only comforting for the person who has lost their loved one, I can guarantee it will be a comfort to their family.”
If you're considering it, I would say do it, you will not regret it! You will find it immensely comforting, and a lovely space. It’s somewhere you can go and remember that person, and also see that a person that has now died is giving something back to the community and is being resourceful.
Last date edited: 26 January 2016