Memorial bench unveiled for Nic who tragically died last September aged just 22

Melissa Nunes (standing) with Jackie Chandler (Nic Willoughbys mum)
Melissa Nunes (standing) with Jackie Chandler (Nic Willoughbys mum)

Nic, who was aged just 22 years old when he died last year, has been honoured by a memorial bench outside where he worked.

Friends, family and colleagues of Nic Willoughby packed the courtyard garden at Aylesbury’s Nuffield Health Centre on Sunday, January 6 for the unveiling of a memorial bench in his honour.

Nic, 22, who worked as a Duty Manager at the fitness club, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly last September.

He was an extremely popular and well-liked member of the Nuffield team and members and colleagues, shocked and saddened by the news, immediately banded together to raise funds for a memorial to the cheerful young man who ‘always had a smile and time for people’.

A funding page was set up by Nuffield Gym member, Damian Goddard-Lane, which quickly raised more than double the £1,000 target set.

Any surplus funds will go to the Nic Willoughby Fund, which has been set up by Nic’s close family and friends, in his memory, to raise funds for local grass roots sport, something that Nic was very passionate about (www.totalgiving.co.uk/mypage/nicwilloughbyfund)

Speaking at the unveiling of the bench Nuffield Admin Manager Melissa Nunes said: “Nic was a wonderful member of the team and a great friend to many of us.

"The bench will remind me of our Summer manager meetings, which Nic would insist on having outside, in the courtyard, and force me to sit with him in the hottest part, so he could enjoy the sunshine!

"We spent many a lunchtime chatting there too and now the bench is a place to sit and talk to him still and imagine his arm around you, giving you advice, or just sharing a laugh. I hope anyone who had the pleasure of meeting Nic can sit on the bench and take some comfort that he is still there and we will keep his memory alive.”

Nic’s mother Jackie, responded on behalf of the family saying: “It is fantastic to see so many people here today to acknowledge how important Nic was to us all. The wonderful tributes in the book of condolence and on Facebook said so much about him.

"For someone so young, he really did make a difference to many people’s lives and I am so incredibly proud of him.

“Damian I thank you for organising the fundraising and delivery of the bench. It is a very kind thing that you have done and I thank staff, members and friends for their donations and heartfelt words. They have been overwhelming.

“Nic had a very close group of friends, whose love for him and support for each other and us, during the last few tragic months, has been phenomenal.

"They have set up a charity, The Nic Willoughby Fund which will give financial support to grass roots sport - a cause that meant a lot to Nic. They are an incredible group of young men and I thank them too - the charitable fund will undoubtedly keep Nic’s memory alive.

"Our loss is so huge and clearly felt by so many.

"I hope that the sun will shine here often to remind everyone of his smile. If Nic is looking down on us today he will be so touched, he would turn to me and say... ‘Ahh that’s enough now mum, you’re embarrassing me!’