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Amanda Champion memorial bench replaced by Ashford Borough Council

A bench dedicated to a young woman who was murdered 15 years ago has been replaced.

Friends and family of 21-year-old Amanda Champion installed the memorial after her body was discovered on land off Mead Road, near The Albion pub in South Willesborough in 2003.

Vandals destroyed the bench last month, but Ashford Borough Council (ABC) has now paid for a replacement.

Amanda's cousin Jo Champion at the bench with supporters Brian Mabb and Chris Pimm
Amanda's cousin Jo Champion at the bench with supporters Brian Mabb and Chris Pimm

Amanda's cousin, Jo Champion, said: "I'm amazed with it and really pleased with what ABC has done.

"It had been there all those years before the sick people then smashed it up.

"The spot behind the bench is where Amanda's body was found so I ask if people could just respect it as it is a memorial."

The bench was destroyed
The bench was destroyed

Miss Champion worked for the BP Travel Marketing Services on the Orbital Park in Sevington.

South Willesborough resident Chris Pimm, 55, discovered the broken bench and worked hard to get it replaced.

He said: "I have walked past the bench for the last 15 years and it was just devastating for me to see it destroyed so close to the anniversary.

Amanda Champion
Amanda Champion

"I was quite emotional and I just don’t know how somebody in their right mind would want to do that to somebody's memorial bench. It was just disgusting.

"But out of the adversity something really nice has come - we've now got a bench which hopefully be here for a lot longer than 15 years if people can just respect it."

Before the council replaced the bench, more than £300 was raised to pay for a replacement and the cash has been given to fundraising group Megan's Fund, which also offered to help.

The bench plaque
The bench plaque

ABC Cllr David Smith, who represents South Willesborough, said: "The bench was originally funded by the community and once ABC heard it cleared the old bench and donated a new one.

"The original plaque has been kept and that is on the new bench.

"Amanda was a lovely girl; I found her death particularly difficult as I knew her well, it was a real tragedy and traumatic for the whole community.

"We are a very tight community and it hit us all - things like that don't happen over here. I'm glad the bench has been replaced."

Amanda's family has already put flowers on the bench to mark her anniversary and are set to visit this week.

James Ford, a 26-year-old from Hunter Avenue, was jailed for life at Maidstone Crown Court in 2004 after being found guilty of killing Amanda.

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