Some years ago, when my mother died, our family paid a not inconsiderable sum to Kew Gardens for a memorial bench to be placed by the lakeside to commemorate her life.

In the first couple of years, we visited often and had no difficulty in finding it, but in recent years we have had more and more problems in finding it, often coming away without seeing it at all.

I complained on numerous occasions and was told they could not guarantee that benches would stay in any particular area as the public often moved them to different sites. I can understand this to some extent, but not that they should disappear entirely.

On one occasion we inspected more than 100 benches to no avail.

It was my birthday and I felt so sad to read so many tributes and not be able to find my own.

On another occasion we had my 80-year-old father with us and again searched in vain.

Complaining once again recently, after another fruitless search, I received a response saying the bench has now been destroyed because it was no longer fit for purpose.

However, I could have the plaque from it returned if I wish. I wrote again, expressing my distress that the bench had been destroyed without our knowledge (I have no idea when this happened, though they said the benches rarely lasted more than 10 years and ours was about that age) and said I would indeed like the plaque.

That was over a month ago and since then I have had absolutely no response.
It seems to me that if people knew that Kew Gardens takes no responsibility for the care of the benches and does not expect them to last more than 10 years, that they may never be able to find them when they go to Kew, and that they may be destroyed at any time without them being informed, fewer people would be inclined to place them there.

I feel we have been treated in a very callous way, and that there is no appreciation that there is a great deal of sentimental value attached to the benches.

Why would people be willing to pay so much money for the privilege otherwise?

I would be interested to know if anyone else has had this problem or whether we have just been unlucky.   

Lynne Atkinson, Twickenham