Bench is a memorial to mums who died just months apart

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WHEN two mums from the same street died of breast cancer a few months apart their neighbours decided to provide a lasting memorial to them.

On Friday a bench inscribed with the names of Zeynep Sahin-Hallums and Heidi Guy was installed in the park near their homes at Larkspur Way, Southwater.

Heidi died on April 1 last year, aged just 40, and Zeynep on August 4, aged 44, both leaving young children in the care of their dads.

Zeynep’s widower James said she had been suffering the disease for four years and would meet other mums with children at Castlewood Primary School, including Heidi, at the park on their way home.

James and Zeynep’s children are aged nine and seven and Heidi and Andy’s are aged three and seven.

When Heidi died, Karen Lawton and Jenny Myers, also of Larkspur Way, set about raising money for a memorial.

“Karen was a friend and neighbour of Zeynep, who was ill as well, and we were in the play area with our children and some mums talking and Karen said she wanted some kind of memorial,” said Jenny.

“We agreed with her and started doing a collection round the houses and asked in the school newsletter if anybody would like to donate for a bench.

“When Zeynep died we went round again as we wanted it to be a joint memorial.

“There are lots of people who knew both of them as there are lots of families with children at school together and an awful lot of people contributed.

“Heidi and Zeynep both used the play area where the bench is.”

James gave special thanks to Karen and Jenny and said: “On behalf of Andy and myself, I wish to say a big thank you to the local community who kindly contributed money and arranged the installation of the bench.

“They will always be remembered and it is a lovely gesture to have a bench placed where they used to sit on a regular basis and remember the fun times we all had.”

He said Andy lives a few doors down the cul-de-sac and the families knew each other but didn’t talk about the illness.

“When Heidi died it was quite an eye opener for us,” he said.

“It brings it home to you that life is limited and we got quite upset.

“Andy has young children, the same as me, and all our relatives live quite far away but we have lots of support from our friends and we have both had to get an au pair to help us around the house.”