A memorial dedicated to a much loved cat in Leigh Park has been unveiled in Havant.
The oak bench was paid for by donations received following the loss of Missy the Bus Stop Cat, who passed away in February.
The bench, which has a cat sculpture curled up at one end, was unveiled at 2pm on Tuesday 7th June by the Mayor of Havant, Councillor Faith Ponsonby.
The story of Missy quickly went viral with donations for a memorial coming in from all over the world.
Cllr Ponsonby said, “I am amazed because it went right round the world and shows what a loving community this is. Leigh Park is a wonderful community to be in. It’s one of the most generous and warmhearted communities I’ve come across. They really rally round when they are needed.”
Missy’s owner, Richard McCormick, received letters from across the world, simply addressed to ‘The Bus Stop Cat’. He said, “It shows the spirit of the community. People loved the cat as much as we did. I was very surprised to find out just how much she meant to the community.
Craig Cockram and Richard McCormick with the newly
named bus. Photo by UK News in Pictures”It’s not just a shock, the grief that it caused was difficult to manage. We’re just getting on with our lives now. What else can you do?
“I have a lie down in the afternoon because of my health so I’ll be able to open my bedroom window and see it. I hope it stays for many, many years and doesn’t get destroyed – that would be my biggest worry.”
Stagecoach bus driver, Craig Cockram, was the instigator of the campaign. He said, “I thought we would raise a few hundred quid just to put a plaque on the bus stop and it snowballed from there.
“To actually be involved in something that went viral was amazing. The power of Facebook is unbelievable and it happened so quickly.”
Craig also approached the bosses of Stagecoach to suggest that one of their buses was named after Missy and passengers can read her story when they are on board. He said, “I went to Stagecoach management and they thought it was a marvellous idea.”
The bench, created by local chainsaw sculptor Chris Bain has been placed on the grass verge in Dunsbury Way, Leigh Park directly opposite Missy’s the bus shelter.
Mr Bain said, “I felt very proud that they approached me to create this. They wanted something unique and they wanted it created by somebody local.”
The remainder of the money will be shared between the PDSA and the Chichester Cat and Rabbit Rescue Centre.