Written by on 14th July 2021

Local community heroes who have gone above and beyond during the pandemic are being recognised with a bespoke bench that tell their story.

Jay Blades from the TV show Repair Shop designed the benches with a special QR code that will when scanned will take you to Jay reading out why that person deserved the dedicated bench.

The National Lottery has revealed six further locations across the UK including Manchester, Leeds and Glamorgan and Port Talbot in Wales after The People’s Benches project first launched in 2020, selecting exceptional community heroes to honour from nearly 9,000 community projects funded by The National Lottery since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The new benches celebrate inspiring individuals, such Port Talbot resident Mal Emerson who formed charity Marauders Men’s Health helping men with mental health issues, Oldham resident Oyovwe Kigho who is the founder and chief executive of the Widows Empowerment Trust, a scheme set up in 2017 to end and combat loneliness and Leeds resident Ben “Buddy” Slack who was inspired to start charity The Swan Song project in 2017 after losing his grandmother and Emily Hayward who was inspired to start Time to Talk Befriending charity to combat loneliness in vulnerable communities.

One such community hero is Glamorgan’s Rhian Manning. Her bench was unveiled at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital in Ynysmaerdy, Pontyclun, Wales by TV presenter Gethin Jones.

Rhian launched her “2 Wish Upon A Star” charity following the sudden death of her one-year-old son George followed by her distraught husband Paul taking his own life just a few days later. Rhian set up the charity to help other families coping with bereavement.

In an emotional video, released today1, Rhian and Gethin discuss her heart-breaking experience back in 2012. The incredibly moving piece sees Rhian speaking to Gethin about how she and her family came to terms with their loss.

The video features the touching moment when Rhian sees the bench that has been dedicated to her for the first time, in place outside the Royal Glamorgan Hospital which treated George over 8 years ago.


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