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Bamber Bridge ‘Happy to Chat’ bench honours late councillor

Posted on - 20th November, 2021 - 12:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Bamber Bridge, People, Proud Preston, South Ribble News
The Happy to Chat bench

South Ribble Council has installed a bench dedicated to the late Councillor Christine Melia.

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The tribute to the former Bamber Bridge East representative is located on one of two new benches placed on Station Road, on the stretch between the railway tracks and Church Road.

Installed in response to social isolation caused by Covid-19, both have a plaque carrying the message ‘sit here if you don’t mind someone stopping to say hello’.

Read more: Man seen trying car doors on Holland House estate

The Happy to Chat bench plaque

Cllr Melia, who passed away in September after a short illness, was a passionate project advocate through her involvement in the Bamber Bridge, Lostock Hall and Walton-le-Dale Community Hub.

Cllr Paul Foster, Leader of South Ribble Borough Council and representative of Bamber Bridge West, said: “This bench will be a fitting and lasting tribute to our good friend and colleague, Cllr Christine Melia.

“Christine was incredibly passionate about helping local people, and I know this initiative was particularly close to her heart.

“The last 18 months have been a tough time for so many of us. The council has been doing what it can to help those who have struggled with loneliness and isolation.”

Read more: Bamber Bridge pupils enjoy activities day for ‘Outstandingly Happy School’ bid

Foster said as we continue to return to normality, the new benches are a small and simple way of connecting people.

There are five Community Hubs across South Ribble, all with their own budgets to deliver projects designed to help people in their local area.

Foster said: “They say that a stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet. Bamber Bridge is a fabulous community, and I hope that these new benches will bring us even closer together.”

Read more: Man charged with Bamber Bridge assault and criminal damage

Cllr Melia proposed the benches after residents contacted her to point out there was a shortage of places for people to sit in one part of Bamber Bridge.

Cllr Chris Lomax, Chair of the Bamber Bridge, Lostock Hall and Walton-le-Dale Community Hub, said: “As well as giving people a place to stop and sit down, we saw an opportunity to do something a little different.

“We hope these benches will encourage residents to strike up conversations with each other as they watch the world go by.

“Christine was a real champion of this project, and though she is sadly no longer with us, these benches will help to keep her memory alive for many, many years to come.”

Read more: 22-year-old woman who was missing from Bamber Bridge found 

Cllr Melia was elected to the ward of Bamber Bridge East in May 2019. A by-election to choose a new representative for the area will be held on Thursday 18 November.

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