Bench for child abuse victims unveiled at Ashdown Forest

Wealden MP Nus Ghani, second right, at the unveilingWealden MP Nus Ghani, second right, at the unveiling
Wealden MP Nus Ghani, second right, at the unveiling
A bench has been installed in the Ashdown Forest bearing a message of hope from victims and survivors of child sexual abuse.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has chosen 200 locations across England and Wales to place benches and plaques.

Each is inscribed with uplifting messages gathered directly from victims and survivors who have taken part in the Inquiry's Truth Project.

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The A.A. Milne and E.H. Shepard memorial, the creators of Winnie-the-Pooh, at Ashdown Forest in East Sussex was chosen as one of the locations, and Wealden MP Nus Ghani joined Friday's unveiling.

She said: "Nothing is more wicked than hurting a child, and there is no excuse for those who perpetrate this abhorrent crime."I pay tribute to the victims and survivors who have shared their testimonies and experiences."It is not easy coming forward to seek help and it takes a lion's heart to take on the perpetrator."I have been working with the children's charity Barnardo's and I chaired a cross-party inquiry into tackling child sexual abuse and preventing children from sexually abusing other children."I will continue campaigning on behalf of victims in Wealden and nationwide, and I am pleased that this new bench on our beautiful Ashdown Forest will contribute to ensuring that their voices continue to be heard so that children can be better projected in the future."

Other guests at the opening included Alison Jeffery, Director of Children's Services at East Sussex County Council.

She said: "The dedication on this new bench, set in a place which has a special connection with childhood, is a wonderful way to mark the bravery of those who testified to the inquiry."It is so important that we all play our part in doing whatever we can to prevent the sexual abuse of children and young people, and that we work together to protect them."Anyone who is concerned about a child in East Sussex for any reason can make a referral through our Single Point of Advice on 01323 464222 or email"

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Rosalyn St. Pierre, Vice Chair of the Conservators of Ashdown Forest, said the bench provides a powerful message.She said: "The uplifting comments from the victims are deeply poignant and thought provoking."I am pleased that Ashdown Forest has been chosen so our visitors of all ages can view the bench and reflect on everything it represents."

Through 15 investigations, a research programme and Truth Project, thousands of victims and survivors have made a vital contribution to the Inquiry's work.

This Legacy Project aims to acknowledge this contribution, ensuring their voices are at its heart.

Each bench features a QR code linking to a new section of the Inquiry's website dedicated to the project.

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This includes clear signposting for help and support services, background information and further resources for those who wish to show their support.

It also includes a digital interactive map enabling viewers to easily find the closest bench to them.

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