Lancing teenager donates memorial bench for ‘best buddy and mentor’ who passed away

A Lancing teenager has donated a memorial bench in a moving tribute to his 80-year-old friend and mentor who passed away last year.

Matthew English, 14, started busking with his violin on the streets of Lancing and Shoreham after his friend, Vic Hilton, passed away.

Matthew with Vic Hilton, his friend and mentor who passed away last year

Matthew with Vic Hilton, his friend and mentor who passed away last year

Supported by the Lancing and Sompting Lions, Matthew hit his £1,000 target and had the bench installed along the cycle path on Lancing seafront – a favourite haunt of his and Vic’s.

The young musician said he had been overwhelmed by the public’s reaction. He said: “I’m amazed by the amount of interest there’s been from people of all ages. Vic was like a father and grandfather to me. He was my best buddy and a mentor who influenced a lot in my life.”

Vic had been a friend of Matthew’s mother, Janice, since she was 16 years old and formed a strong bond with her son. Matthew said he was devastated when he passed away the day before his 13th birthday last year.

The fundraising, and escape provided by his music, had helped with the bereavement, he said, and he hoped his achievement would have made Vic proud.

Lancing and Sompting Lion Tony Redhead with Matthew English SUS-191219-165224001

Lancing and Sompting Lion Tony Redhead with Matthew English SUS-191219-165224001

The bench includes a drawing of a fist bump between the two friends, which Matthew said symbolised friendship between people of all ages and hoped it could encourage young and old to be friends.

As well as thanking everybody from Worthing, Lancing and Shoreham who had supported his campaign, Matthew reserved special thanks for the Lancing and Sompting Lions and, in particular, Lions member Tony Redhead.

The Lions had spotted Matthew on his first day of busking and offered to help with his fundraising effort.

His mum Janice said she was proud of what her son had achieved and thought Vic would have been surprised and amazed at the amount of support Matthew had managed to drum up.

Such was Matthew’s success that he raised too much money, which he plans to use to buy Christmas presents for the residents of Hollywynd care home in Worthing.

A regular violinist at care homes, Matthew said they were his favourite places to play and bring joy to the elderly residents.