Memorial tree for Bexhill man ‘unlawfully killed’ in Portugal

The family of a Bexhill man who was ‘unlawfully killed’ in Portugal have planted a tree in his memory.

Joel Eldridge, 29, went missing in July 2018 after going to Portugal in January to work.

Joel’s disappearance was reported to Sussex Police but in August 2019, Portuguese police revealed they had discovered a body near the town of Picha.

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Joel’s mum, Jacqueline, said: “Our son Joel was born locally and lived all his life in Bexhill.

Joel Eldridge. Picture courtesy of Sussex Police SUS-190608-163810001

“He attended King Offa and Bexhill High. He worked locally as a security guard, in roofing companies and drainage firms. He went to do a few months’ work in Portugal in January 2018, at the age of 29.

“He went missing at the end of July that same year. Over a year later, in August 2019, his body was discovered buried in a remote wooded area of central Portugal.

“There was evidence that he had been unlawfully killed. With help from the Lucy Blackman Trust, money was raised to bring him back home.

Joel's parents, Jacqueline and Alan by the tree SUS-220117-110428001

“We were finally able to have a funeral for him in November 2019 at St Peter’s Church in Bexhill.

“The church was filled to capacity, with not only Joel’s family, but with a huge number of his many friends. He was well-liked and loved locally.

“Many of these friends were responsible for the raising of the funds to bring him home. We will always be grateful for the support of every one of them.

The memorial plaque SUS-220117-110439001

“Joel was then cremated. His ashes were scattered by boat, off of the De La Warr Pavilion.

“When he was very young he had said he wanted a Viking funeral one day. I built a model Viking boat, using only natural materials, which we set adrift after setting fire to it.

“A small portion of his ashes were retained to scatter around his memorial tree. After a long wait, an Aspen has been planted on Bexhill Downs. We had admired these with Joel on our last family holiday in Yellowstone National Park.”