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Father of schoolboy who died in Dunorlan Park, Tunbridge Wells, urges people to talk this Mental Health Awareness Week

A heartbroken father, whose son died in a Kent park, has shared the emotional messages he sent to his son's phone telling him how much he is missed.

Michael Bond's world fell apart when police told him his 17-year-old son, Matthew Mackell, had passed away at Dunorlan Park in Tunbridge Wells.

Matthew was just 17-years-old. Picture: Michael Bond
Matthew was just 17-years-old. Picture: Michael Bond

After finding out just how much Matthew was struggling, Mr Bond is now urging others facing similar issues to get help and talk, as the UK marks Mental Health Awareness Week.

The 48-year-old said: "Matthew liked school work and playing computer games. He was a very quiet young lad but he always spoke his mind.

"I’d hear him in his room and think he’s happy laughing his head off. You just don't think anything like that's going to happen."

In a text sent to Matthew's phone after he died, Mr Bond said: "I'm missing you so much mate, keep on looking out the widow for you. Just want you back screaming at your TV to hear you laugh.

"People are sending so many nice messages about you and how you were such a nice person and friend to so many.

Michael Bond sent this heartfelt text to his son's phone. Picture: Michael Bond
Michael Bond sent this heartfelt text to his son's phone. Picture: Michael Bond

"I'm so very proud of you."

Mr Bond said sending the text messages helped him express how much he missed Matthew.

He said: "It was my way to feel he's still there with me."

It was only yesterday, when Mr Bond got his son's belongings back, that he found out how low Matthew had been feeling.

He added: "We found out he thought about taking his life in February. I looked at his phone logs to see he’d searched 'how to take your own life'.

Michael Bond sent this heartfelt text to his son's phone. Picture: Michael Bond
Michael Bond sent this heartfelt text to his son's phone. Picture: Michael Bond

"We would have never expected this from him, ever.

"He had so many friends at school. I wish he could have talked to me or one of them."

Matthew lived with his father, who is a single parent, and two brothers Christopher, 18, and Daniel, 13, at their home in Sandhurst Road.

The 17-year-old was a Year 12 pupil at Skinners' Kent Academy. His love for maths meant he wanted to be an accountant when he left school.

Mr Bond added: "He’s mentioned accounting once or twice but he didn't think anything would come of it.

Matthew with his two brothers Christopher and Daniel. Picture: Michael Bond
Matthew with his two brothers Christopher and Daniel. Picture: Michael Bond

"He didn’t know he had so many qualities. He even had a two-week placement to go and work for a company in London.

"When he found out he got it he was absolutely ecstatic, he couldn’t believe it. Out of everybody in Year 12 he was the one who was chosen.

"I think he was worried that was going to get cancelled, so that was on his mind."

Mr Bond said the evening his son left for the last time changed his world forever.

"It was about 9.30pm, Matthew came downstairs and said he was going to pop out for a little while.

Matthew Mackell with his two brothers, Christopher and Daniel. Picture: Michael Bond
Matthew Mackell with his two brothers, Christopher and Daniel. Picture: Michael Bond

"I said to him if you’re going to stay at a friend's house, give me a text or a call and he said 'yeah I’ll try'.

"I said 'take care' and he said 'bye' and that's the last time I talked to him.

"I kept texting him through the night but I didn't know anything was wrong. I knew he wouldn't be out on the streets causing trouble.

"I thought he might have just stayed at a friend's house and fallen asleep.

"I didn’t think anything of it until the police turned up at my door at 6.30am.

Flowers and messages have been gathering at Dunorlan Park
Flowers and messages have been gathering at Dunorlan Park

"When they told me what happened it was so painful.

"Matthew called the police himself when he was at the park at 10.18pm.

"When the police called him back at about 10.40pm he picked up and said 'I’m fine now don't worry about me'.

"We presume it was after that call he passed away.

"I know he was worried about school work but I don't think that's all of it myself.

Mr Bond took this photo of a lantern the night he visited Dunorlan Park a week after his son passed away. Picture: Michael Bond
Mr Bond took this photo of a lantern the night he visited Dunorlan Park a week after his son passed away. Picture: Michael Bond

"He didn't like the job he was in. He worked in Subway and he didn't want to think that was his life.

"With what's going on at the moment, everything shut down around him and he couldn't see his friends, I think he just saw his life stopping."

A growing display of messages and floral tributes to Matthew have been left at the park in Pembury Road.

Mr Bond said: "I went there exactly one week after it happened and it was very emotional for me out there on my own. I sat there until midnight, until I knew that it was the time he had passed."

A JustGiving page was set up by Michael's neighbour Vikki Jump to help the family with funeral costs.

A Just Giving page has been set up in memory of Matthew
A Just Giving page has been set up in memory of Matthew

The page received thousands of pounds in donations just days after being set up. The total now stands at almost £10,000.

Mr Bond says he wants to use some of the money to plant a memorial tree in the park.

He said: "I would like a tree so we can go there in many years to come and remember Matthew.

"But for me it's not the money, it’s the support I’ve been getting from people. The messages have been so helpful to me."

Any money left over will be shared between three charities which Mr Bond will choose with his sons.

Skinners' Kent Academy. Picture: Google Street View
Skinners' Kent Academy. Picture: Google Street View

Skinners' Kent Academy has also come up with a way for its students to remember the popular teen who touched so many people's lives.

Mr Bond said: "There's now something called 'Matthew's Mile' which is a chance for students to walk and think about their lives and forget everything else that’s going on.

"He was such a polite and kind boy and everyone at school loved him.

"I heard about this incident where he was with some friends and some people were picking on a girl with special needs.

"He went over, told them to stop it and took her to one of the teachers so she could get some help.

"He had a friendship with her and he made an effort to see her each day and ask her if she was okay.

"He didn't care about how it made him look or if people would take the mick.

"If he had something on his mind he would do it and that’s the type of person he was."

Mr Bond said, if one thing could come out of Matthew's story, he hopes it will encourage people to get help.

He added: "He did go onto some websites to see about getting some help and I want people to know there are organisations out there that will listen if you're feeling low."

That website was Papyrus, Prevention of Young Suicide. To find out more about its services, click here.

To support the Just Giving page, click here.

For confidential support on an emotional issue, call Samaritans on 116 123 at any time.

If you want to talk to someone confidentially, click here.

Read more:All the latest news from Tunbridge Wells


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