Family of Burton Bradstock landslide victim upset over removal of tributes
The family of young woman killed in a Dorset cliff landslide have spoken of their disgust after holiday park bosses took away tributes left on a memorial bench to mark the anniversary of her death.
Charlotte Blackman, 22, was on holiday in Dorset with boyfriend Matthew Carnell and her family when she was killed by a massive cliff fall at Burton Bradstock beach, in West Dorset, in July last year.
To mark the first anniversary of her death, family members visited the Freshwater Beach Holiday Park where they were staying when the incident happened on the nearby beach.
During their pilgrimage, mum Rachel, dad Kevin and Charlotte’s brother and sister, 13-year-old Mitch and Sinead, 21, placed flowers, a plaque and teddy bear on the bench which they had installed a few months after her death.
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She said: “On the anniversary of Charlotte’s death it meant a lot for us to leave these things to remember her and to help us deal with our grief.”
But the family were shocked to receive a letter a few weeks later from the holiday park which informed the family that all the tributes had been removed.
Mrs Blackman, of Heanor, Derbyshire, said: “The letter basically said they cleared the flowers and ornaments we left on her memorial bench.
“They said ‘we would appreciate it if you wouldn’t leave things’ saying it creates a hazard and they don’t want the bench to be a shrine.
“It was just so insensitive and heartless. We put those tributes there to help us mark the anniversary of Charlotte’s death and they took them away without even consulting us. It just adds to the pain of our loss.
“Sinead has been quite upset. She’d had a plaque made which said ‘sister’ to put on the bench and bought a teddy bear. They haven’t put any thought into what they’ve done whatsoever.”
Scott Condliffe, general manager of the Freshwater park, stood by the decision, stating the holiday park was “a business, not a graveyard.”
He said: “We were happy for the Blackman family to have a memorial bench on the site even though the accident didn’t happen here.
“The family started to leave lots of things around the bench and it became a shrine which, for a holiday park, is not appropriate.
“We’re happy for them to return and visit. We left the flowers in place for several weeks afterwards.
“Only when it became very untidy we felt we had to do something.”