A YEAR on after the tragic death of north Pembrokeshire teenager, a memorial bench and garden have been unveiled at Ysgol Bro Gwaun. Shannon Van Oppen, 16, died after the motorcycle she was riding came into collision with a BMW car on the road between St Davids and Mathry on June 1st, 2012.
A service of dedication took place in glorious sunshine at Ysgol Bro Gwaun last Thursday. It was attended by more than 40 of Shannon’s sixth form classmates, her teachers and family members.
The service was led by the Rev Pat Rogers, who also officiated Shannon’s funeral. She told the crowd: “Grief lays buried for a long, long time, it needs to be shared and remembered. But we also need to have the good memories and a place such as this can where they can bubble to the surface.”
Shannon’s father Andy Van Oppen was clearly moved by the occasion. He said: “Thank you very much everyone. It is nice to see she had so many friends. It’s a hard day for me today, but it is a good day as well. Looking at all of you makes me feel good and I hope you enjoy your bench.”
Ysgol Bro Gwaun’s headteacher, Mr Tony Andrews followed by saying a few words on behalf of the school. He said: “We picked this spot purposely so Shannon can keep an eye on what the sixth form are up to.
“I would like to thank Andy and Sarah. I think over the last year whenever I met Andy he’s been very grateful for the school and all the support we’ve given him. But I would say that a lot of people here have actually coped because of the way he is and the support he’s given people.”
The service concluded with an emotional few words from Carri-Ann Robb, a close friend and classmate of Shannon. She said: “People can get to know Shannon just by sitting here, because this is where our sixth form had fun, whether it was rolling down Telly Tubby hill or stacking each other up and knocking each other over.
“Even though we’re not in school anymore, we can still come here and remember how we used to be as friends.”
The family thank the companies who donated items for the garden; they include Jewsons, Ty Rhos, Travis Perkins and Fishguard garden centre.