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A man whose wife’s memorial bench was smashed onto Oban beach by Hogmanay pranksters said she would want him to forgive the ‘idiots’, not hate them.
David Hobbs said Thai-born Amnuai, whose death remains a mystery after she was found in a river near Paisley in 2014, would want him to show forgiveness despite it breaking his heart.
The bench, inscribed with words from John Lennon’s Let It Be and made from recycled plastic, was discovered in bits close to where it had stood, near The Oban Times slipway, on New Year’s Day.
Photographs of the wrecked bench triggered a rush of Facebook offers of help and support from people around the town.
It would have taken at least two people to lift the bench up and throw it over the Esplanade railings.
Mr Hobbs, who had only been married to Amnuai for seven months after a seven-year relationship when she died, said the shock of what happened to the bench brought back ‘the very worst grief’ he had been struggling to cope with.
‘It brought it all back. I’ve never got over losing Amnuai but I’ve tried to keep going,’ he said. ‘I still don’t know to this day what happened to her ending up in the water where she was found.
‘This incident with the bench has been like losing her all over again but it’s also made me realise just how much people here in Oban care. There’s only a few bad apples who spoil things but you get them in every town and city.’
Police have been informed and are looking at CCTV to try to identify who did it, said Mr Hobbs.
‘Amnuai was not a hateful person. She didn’t have a bad bone in her body. She would not want me to hate who did this but it’s still hard for me to forgive them even though that’s what she would want.
‘When the bench goes back, I’d like them to do something nice to show they are sorry – maybe a bunch of flowers. I want them to realise the terrible upset they have caused from being idiots and what might have just been a daft prank to them,’ he added.
Amnuai was best known in Oban as being caretaker of the council-run toilets. She used to go to the slipway to take her lunch breaks and enjoy the view.
‘That’s why I put the bench there because she liked that spot. I’m looking for another spot now, maybe by the Corran Halls. I was thinking it could even go in my back yard at the flats where I live in Longsdale so my neighbours can use it and it might be safer – but I’d like it to stay by the sea.
‘Amnuai was liked by everyone she met. She would walk into a room and you would feel her presence straight away. She was a character. They all loved her. I knew I had found someone I was comfortable with and I’d hoped we would spend the rest of our lives with each other.
‘I want to say a big thank you to all the people of Oban who offered to help and have sent me messages of support. You are all wonderful, kind people,’ said Mr Hobbs, who volunteers in two of the town’s charity shops and hosts a rock and roll Saturday night show on Oban FM.
When workers at Barcaldine-based Gael Force Fusion, who originally made Amnuai’s bench, saw on Facebook what happened, they also got in touch with Mr Hobbs and offered to repair it for free.
The Oban Times took Mr Hobbs to their workshop to see the fixed bench and to meet Marek Milanowski who repaired it. Mr Milanowski has to fly to Poland on Monday to see his dying father and said his own sorrow at this time gave him great empathy for Mr Hobbs.
Mr Milanowski said: ‘For me it was terrible what happened. It’s difficult to believe that someone would do such a thing. I made the bench four years ago for Mr Hobbs and I felt very sad for him. I am sharing his sadness of losing someone so special.’