THE heartbroken grand-parents of a 19-year-old who died in tragic circumstances have planted a cherry tree in his memory.
Barry and Muriel Kerslake said they have struggled to come to terms with the loss of their grandson Jonathon, who had lived with them for nine years.
They have planted a Cheal’s weeping cherry tree in their garden in Queen’s Park, in memory of Jonathon’s favourite tree from his childhood.
“We cry every day that we have lost him, we were very proud of him,” said Mrs Kerslake.
“He was fantastic socially, very open and friendly with everyone and always making people laugh.
“It turned out he was more popular than even we had expected, there were 300 people at his funeral.
“As his father said – ‘everyone who met him liked him and everyone who knew him loved him’.
“It was such a great loss for us, we felt planting this tree would be an appropriate way to remember him.”
Jonathon was born in Bournemouth and went to Malmesbury Park and King’s Park schools, Porchester School and later St Peter’s in Southbourne.
At age ten he moved to live with Barry and Muriel, although he was very close to his father Joff and his new family.
Around that time he joined the Big Little Theatre Company, and acting became one of his great passions. Over his six years with the company he took part in many productions, only dropping out as he struggled to keep up with music and dance.
He studied psychology at Bournemouth and Poole College, but before his death said he was thinking about going back into theatre.
His love of performing gave him great confidence and warmth towards others, and he quickly befriended his fellow staff at Next Home in Branksome, where he rose to become team leader.
He and his grandmother travelled regularly when he was a teenager, visiting Hollywood and other parts of the United States and Italy, and they attended shows and musicals in Southampton and London.
On March 8 last year Jonathon accidentally took a drug which had been put into a bottle of Lucozade and died shortly afterwards.
His family said they felt unable to pay a proper tribute to him while a police investigation into his death – which never made it to court – was under way.