A mum-of-three “burst into tears” in a Sainsbury’s carpark after a heart-warming text from her partner brought back difficult memories.
Frances Molloy, 58, lost her son in a car crash nearly a decade ago and broke down in tears when she learned of a special gesture her boy’s friends had made.
After a number of items vanished from a tribute the teenager’s friends rallied together and replaced the missing objects, reports the Liverpool Echo.
Her middle son Michael, 18, was killed on his way home from the Bestival music festival in 2012 when the coach he was travelling on crashed after its 19-year-old tyre’s blew out.
Frances threw herself into campaigning for a law change, which resulted in new legislation that came into force in February 2021 banning old tyres from lorries, buses and coaches.
Trinity Mirror NW2)
With her almost-decade-long campaign finally over, Frances started to grieve again.
She said: “When I lost Michael, I can’t even describe how it felt. It was just the worst thing in life.
“There are no words really that I can find. There isn’t even a name for people who’ve lost children.
“You have orphans, you have widows and widowers, but you don’t even have a name for child loss.
“Then I found out it was totally preventable and it just, when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, it did.
“But then I think running the campaign, it kept me really focused on something for him and my main aim, which was to make sure if never happened again.
“When it actually happened, when the law was changed, I think the whole reality of it kind of hit me again.”
There is no grave or headstone for Michael. Frances found that too difficult.
Instead she kept his ashes and welcomed his friends into her home when they wanted to spend time with him.
Her two older sisters suggested the idea of a memorial bench, which they now have at Camp Hill where Michael and the other boys used to play as kids.
The Mirror’s newsletter brings you the latest news, exciting showbiz and TV stories, sport updates and essential political information.
The newsletter is emailed out first thing every morning, at 12noon and every evening.
Never miss a moment by signing up to our newsletter here.
Frances said: “It’s just become such a positive, peaceful place.
“The significance of the bench is it feels like him and there’s still a place we can go where we can be with him.
“His friends really get a lot of comfort, I get tremendous comfort out of that.”
People leave items on the bench, showing Frances that her caring, beautiful and thoughtful son is remembered.
On December 23, 2021, Frances and her friend, Michael’s godmother, spent hours decorating the bench.
They put out a bottle of Jack Daniel’s, which Michael liked, a chocolate orange – “his absolute favourite in the world” – a Lindt chocolate teddy that Frances’ parents used to buy the boys, and a penguin with its chick symbolising Frances and Michael.
But when they visited the next morning, those items were gone.
Frances said: “I just got really upset, and I just went, ‘I can’t believe they’ve taken it’.
“I just wanted it to look like a grotto, and I was really upset at the time.
“It’s just the thought of somebody taking something. It’s like stealing off a grave.”
She coped with the shock of it by telling herself the items must have gone as a present to someone who couldn’t afford one.
Later that day, Frances was out doing some last minute Christmas shopping when she got a message from her partner.
Frances said: “My partner sent me a photo of the boys, my youngest son Liam and his friends, and he said, ‘You won’t believe they’ve been out and they’ve tried to replace everything’.
“Honestly, I was in Sainsbury’s carpark and I just burst into tears. I couldn’t get over what they’ve done.”
In the photo, two young men were stood in Frances’ home next to a table where they’d placed a bag of Terry’s Chocolate Orange Minis, a bottle of Jack Daniel’s, a Lindt bear, and a polar bear with its cubs.
Hanging on the wall behind them, visible between the the pair with their arms around each other’s shoulders, was a photo of Michael.
Frances said: “I was upset, but I think, it is a little bit cliché, but kindness and love conquer all in these situations.”
Their “little act of kindness” made all the difference to Frances on Christmas Eve.
She said: “These are young men, and I don’t think younger people always get the best press and yet, for the most part, they’re really decent.
“It just shows what kindness can do.
“And it was Christmas Eve. I mean, I couldn’t get over it. I just didn’t expect it at all.”
Frances added: “Honestly, it’s pure love. These boys don’t have any problem, you know, they’ll give me a hug.
“It was just when they said, ‘We didn’t want it to be any harder than it already is for you. We know how hard it is for you’, I couldn’t believe it.
“I don’t know if I’d have been as thoughtful at that age, and I feel very, very, very fortunate, very blessed, to have every one of them in my life.
“They’re just a joy to be around.”