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'The memorial they deserve' - gravestone for tragic teenagers, four years after Thorpe Marshes drowning

PUBLISHED: 12:51 04 May 2019 | UPDATED: 12:51 04 May 2019

Stella Kambi and Bonheur Munsungay.

Stella Kambi and Bonheur Munsungay.

Archant

Two grieving families finally have a proper place to mourn - four years after their teenagers lost their lives in the waters of Thorpe Marshes, near Norwich.

The memorial stone for Stella Kambi and Bonheur Musungay is now in place. Picture: Lesa BalesThe memorial stone for Stella Kambi and Bonheur Musungay is now in place. Picture: Lesa Bales

On August 12 2015, 14-year-old Bonheur Musungay had got into difficulty while swimming 10 metres from the bank at Thorpe Marshes nature reserve.

His cousin Stella Kambi, 17, raced in to save him fully clothed, but both became submerged and drowned.

Now, after a series of setbacks, their families have a place to mourn as a memorial has finally been erected at their grave.

After their deaths, the family was unable to find more than £1,500 for a memorial to mark the grave where the teenagers lie buried side by side in Yarmouth Road cemetery.

The scene of St Andrews Broad at Thorpe Marshes on the outskirts of Norwich, where Bonheur Musungay, 14, and Stella Kambi, 17, drowned. Photo: PA/PA WireThe scene of St Andrews Broad at Thorpe Marshes on the outskirts of Norwich, where Bonheur Musungay, 14, and Stella Kambi, 17, drowned. Photo: PA/PA Wire

A year later, after an appeal, they had raised enough money, but were “let down” by the stonemasons who offered to craft the headstone.

Last month, with the help of a new stonemason firm, a memorial was set in place.

Lesa Bales had read the family's story and organised the fundraising appeal in 2016.

She said: “I would like to offer my sincere apologies to the families of Stella and Bonheur and to all the kind people that donated to the Just Giving page for the delay in this being completed.

Angele Kasampilo, Stella's mother, and Stella's younger sister at their grave in 2016. Picture: Dominic GilbertAngele Kasampilo, Stella's mother, and Stella's younger sister at their grave in 2016. Picture: Dominic Gilbert

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“I was unfortunately let down late last year by the original stonemason after months of chasing for the memorial to be completed.

“Prior to this I had major surgery and suffered my own, tragic family bereavement which meant unfortunately I had to concentrate on other things for many months.”

More than £2,000 had been raised, and Ms Bales said some “residual funds” had been paid against an order for another family in need of a memorial for their child.

Stella and Bonheur's mothers, Flora Mawua and Angele Kasambilo, said their “hearts were moved” when they saw the memorials erected.

“Losing a loved one is never an easy experience but losing two loved ones at the same time was traumatising,” they said.

“Not only were we heartbroken but we had to face the financial difficulties that come with planning a send off our beautiful children deserved.

“We just want to express our most sincere gratitude to each person who supported us in that time of need.

“Our beautiful children are resting in God's eternal peace and their memories are not only being honoured in our hearts but also in remembrance on beautiful memorial stones.”

Ms Bales added: “I would like to give my heartfelt thanks to Paul Miles Stonemasons for stepping in to create this beautiful memorial, without his help I would have been lost.

“These two young people now have the memorial they deserve.”

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