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Collier Row woman thanks community for help in funding memorial for brother

PUBLISHED: 07:00 03 May 2017

Michelle Cook has at last raised the cash needed to buy a head stone for the unmarked grave of her only sibling Daren Vale, who died died at Fairlop Waters in 1990. Picture: Ken Mears.

Michelle Cook has at last raised the cash needed to buy a head stone for the unmarked grave of her only sibling Daren Vale, who died died at Fairlop Waters in 1990. Picture: Ken Mears.

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A woman has issued a heartfelt “thank you” to people who helped her raise enough cash to buy a memorial for her teenage brother.

Daren Vale, 18, holding his nephew Simon now 27, died at Fairlop Waters in 1990. Picture: Michelle CookDaren Vale, 18, holding his nephew Simon now 27, died at Fairlop Waters in 1990. Picture: Michelle Cook

Daren Vale, 18, of White Hart Lane, Collier Row, died in a tragic accident 27 years ago at Fairlop Waters, Barkingside.

His body had lain in an unmarked grave since that time, but thanks to an appeal in the Romford Recorder by his sister Michelle Cook, 46, also of White Hart Lane, £1,500 has at last been raised for a head stone.

“I’m so over the moon that we have reached the target,” said Michelle,

“I now have to wait two weeks and the money will go straight to the masons and the stone takes four to six weeks to make.”

Daren died after he and a friend had tried to impress their girlfriends on a bright sunny day on September 3, 1990.

They had challenged each other to swim 150 yards to an island and jumped fully clothed into the water.

Unfortunately Daren never resurfaced and his body was found the following day.

Due to financial hardship, the family were unable to buy a head stone to mark Daren’s grave.

And Michelle, a mum of three, had fought for the legal rights to the grave since her father Denis Vale died 11 years ago.

She was successful in obtaining the rights in February but initially unsuccessful in raising all the cash needed from friends and family.

Desperately, she turned to fundraising website Just Giving in a last ditch attempt.

And over the weekend, generous Romford Recorder readers helped Michelle raise the money.

“Thanks to you and your great articles we have even gone over [the amount needed],” she continued.

“I’m so overwhelmed.

“We are just that little bit closer. The money is there and I cannot wait to get it [all sorted].

“To be able to go there and see his name would mean so much to me.”

Michelle thanked everybody who helped her.

“Friends, family and just as importantly total strangers have been generous enough to give what they could,” she continued.

“I can’t believe so many people have helped me so quickly. I didn’t think I would ever reach my goal so soon.

“From the bottom of my heart I want to thank each and every one of you.”


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