Friday 24 March 2017

Melanie vows to replace bench destroyed by vandals

The charred remains of the bench in Dublin's Herbert Park, paid for by Ms Verwoerd
The charred remains of the bench in Dublin's Herbert Park, paid for by Ms Verwoerd
Ms Verwoerd, pictured with Gerry Ryan
The bench dedication
The now empty spot
Ken Sweeney

Ken Sweeney

THE grieving partner of Gerry Ryan believes the burning of a park bench dedicated to him was not a personal attack on the late broadcaster.

Melanie Verwoerd spoke after vandals torched the wooden bench in a park in Ballsbridge, Dubin, early on Sunday.

Ms Verwoerd, a former South African ambassador to Ireland, had paid for the bench in Herbert Park as a tribute to the RTE star who died in April 2010.

"I don't think this was directed at Gerry. I believe it is just vandalism," Ms Verwoerd (43) said last night.

She said the destruction of the bench was "upsetting", but added she wanted to pay for a new bench at the same spot because it had been a special location for herself and Mr Ryan.

"It's upsetting because it was so senseless. I'm very sad that this has happened but I have already spoken to Herbert Park about replacing the bench," she said.

The former UNICEF Ireland boss said she was unsure of the whereabouts of a metal commemoration plaque that had been attached to the bench.

The tribute read: "For Gerry. Seasons may change winter to spring, but I love you till the end of time. Melanie."

It is a line from one of the broadcaster's favourite songs, 'Come What May', from the film 'Moulin Rouge!'.

The bench was later removed by park officials.

Ms Verwoerd said she visited the seat often.

"I go there frequently. It's a place of comfort, not just for me, but for many people who miss Gerry," she said.

"I meet people in the park who come up and thank me for putting it up, so it means something to a lot of people."

Irish Independent

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