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Memorial bench to Richard Vincent Coleman has been vandalised

A memorial bench for one of Dover’s generous philanthropists has been removed in a shocking act of vandalism.

The bench was unveiled in 2009 to commemorate the centenary of the death of Richard Vincent Coleman, and was placed in the public garden near the Riverside Centre, Maison Dieu Road.

Last week vandals wrenched the bench from its anchorages, dragged it across the garden, and poured dye over it.

Memorial bench at the Riverside Centre was vandalised last week
Memorial bench at the Riverside Centre was vandalised last week

This left the brackets protruding from the flag stone which could have caused significant injury if someone had tripped or fallen on to them.

Peter Sherred, clerk to the trustees of the RV Coleman Trust, said: “This high quality bench is extremely heavy and it must have taken the joint efforts of a number of people to carry out this wanton act of vandalism. Sadly, such anti-social behaviour only serves to damage further the reputation of Dover and neutralises at a stroke hard work so many people undertake to make this town a better place and to raise its profile.

“It is profoundly shocking that such a lack of respect to a memorial to one of the town’s most significant benefactors can have taken place in Dover in this day and age.

“The legacy Mr Coleman left behind is still benefiting people 100 years after his death.”

Previous mayor Sue Jones and deputy mayor Ronnie Philpott unveiling the bench in 2009
Previous mayor Sue Jones and deputy mayor Ronnie Philpott unveiling the bench in 2009

The late Mr Coleman’s charity helps residents who are sick or disabled and in need of care and has done so since 1906.

Mr Sherred, who has been the clerk for the past 25 years and will be retiring from the role in 2016, praised prompt action by Dover District Council officers Barry Finch and Roger Walton. They arranged the removal of the bench to a place of safety and organised necessary works to remove the dangerous brackets.

Mr Sherred hopes to see the bench restored by spring next year but said this will be at great cost to the RV Coleman Trust.

Richard Vincent Coleman was born on December 13, 1831 in the old farmhouse at Priory Farm in Dover.
He died at The Shrubbery on July 5, 1909 and was buried in the family vault at St Augustine’s Churchyard in East Langdon.

He was always described as public spirited and very kind to the poor.

Mr Coleman left a large sum of money to charity in his will and so The R.V Coleman Convalescent and Nursing Home Trust was set up on September 27, 1906.

By 2000, it was known as The RV Coleman Trust and its description is to offer relief or grants to residents in Dover who are in need, either through illness or disability, to assist in their recovery.

This has been running for more than 100 years and has helped thousands of sick people.
His home, The Shrubbery, was renamed Coleman House and for years nurses lived there.

Now Coleman House, Brookfield Avenue, is the home of the Dover Community Mental Health Team.

The bench in his memory was originally unveiled by the then Dover mayor Sue Jones and deputy mayor Ronnie Philpott after being commissioned by the trust.

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