Mildenhall girl’s gift to her late father
A Mildenhall teenager who mounted a fund-raising effort to get her late father a headstone as a Father’s Day gift has seen her dream realised.
Stevie Miller, 20, kickstarted the effort to get the headstone as a Father’s Day gift to her mentally ill father, Chris Fordham, who died at the age of 19 - just a month before she was born.
With support from mum Zoe, the local community and the Bury Free Press, Stevie got the headstone engraved and installed at his grave in Melton Constable, in North Norfolk, ahead of schedule.
The West Suffolk College student said the experience has also rekindled her relationship with her father’s family, whom she hadn’t seen for more than 15 years.
“I never knew something as simple as a gravestone could change my life in such a dramatic way,” she said.
“I’ve got a place where I can go and speak to my dad whenever I want, and I’m now a part of his family.
“I have so many questions for them, and I’m so excited to hear all of the stories about him.”
A desire to find out more about her father, who suffered from bi-polar disorder and died following complications from his illness in May 1995, prompted Stevie’s decision to give his grave a formal headstone.
In total, her appeal for donations and a sky dive she completed herself raised more than £1,000, surpassing her original £900 target.
Designed by Mildenhall Monumentals, the headstone was put in place soon after her 20th birthday last month.
It replaces a wooden cross, all the family could afford at the time of Christopher’s death.
After the new stone’s installation, Stevie, who also suffers from the disease, met with some of her father’s relatives at the churchyard in Melton Constable.
She said it was the first time she had seen his side of the family for 16 years, despite regular written correspondence with her paternal grandmother.
“This gravestone has given me closure and also opened a whole new chapter in my life. I’m so excited for the future and getting to know my new family members!” she said.