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Mum of Gravesend teenager Tristan Taylor to install talking bench for him at Higham Recreation Ground, Rochester

A mother is hoping to keep her son’s memory alive and help encourage people to chat about their mental health by raising money for a talking bench.

Tristan’s Talking Bench will be installed at Higham Recreation Ground, in Rochester and painted in his favourite colour purple.

Tristan Taylor, from Gravesend, was just 15 when he took his own life in May.

The popular Thamesview School pupil, had given no indication of the depths of his feelings in the days before his death.

His mum Gemma Cayley-Smith said there had been signs last year that Tristan, who was diagnosed with ADHD, had been struggling with his mental health as he had self-harmed, but she said things had seemed better and if he looked like he was struggling she would always make sure they talked.

Now she wants to ensure his friends and others who may be feeling down have somewhere they can go to express their feelings.

She said: “We want to encourage Tristan's friends and peers to talk about their mental health now, but it will also help and support people in the local community and future generations.

Tristan and Gemma
Tristan and Gemma
The shelter will be repainted purple
The shelter will be repainted purple

“The bench will also have a plaque to remind people who Tristan was and why it is so important to talk.

“As well as memorialising Tristan when he can’t be here, it will also be a stark reminder of what happened to Tristan and what happens when your mental health is not in a healthy place.

“It’s what can happen when you don’t talk.

“It’s something that will be positive in the community so there are no more Tristans.”

As well as the metal bench, Higham Parish Council has allowed the shelter where Tristan and his friends used to hang out to be painted purple too which, as well as being Tristan’s favourite colour, is the official colour of young people’s mental health charity Papyrus.

Gravesend teenager Tristan Taylor took his own life
Gravesend teenager Tristan Taylor took his own life

The bench will cost around £4,000 so Gemma is raising money by walking the Saxon Shore Way, 163 miles from Gravesend to Hastings.

She felt walking would be good for her own mental health too and decided to raise the money by doing something ambitious.

She said: “Sometimes it’s really difficult to get your head into walking. Sometimes my feet don’t want to move and my head is not in it.

“Then sometimes it’s liberating and it helps my mental health to be out in the sunshine and in nature.”

Gemma is half way through her journey, which she is not doing in one go, and is half way to her target fund.

For confidential support on an emotional issue, call Samaritans on 116 123 at any time or click here to visit the website.

Flowers and tributes to Tristan outside his school
Flowers and tributes to Tristan outside his school

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Next month the family are also keeping Tristan’s memory alive with a 16th birthday party in his honour for all his friends.

Gemma said: “We were approached by a local DJ, Honey Bennett, who is also the parent and aunt of Thamesview pupils who knew Tristan.”

She has offered to host a line-up of local and celebrity DJs for a garage evening titled “White Noise" after Tristan's favourite song, which was played at his funeral.

The party will take place on September 1 in Gravesend, to raise money for Papyrus, ADHD UK and Tristan’s talking bench.

Gemma said: “This will be a birthday celebration in Tristan's honour for his friends. It is a closed event, so only his friends can attend.”

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