Schoolboy's joy at fossils gift
SCHOOLBOY Ben D'Eath had spent most of his young life building up his prized fossil collection.So when Ipswich Museum staff heard it had been totally destroyed by a fire which tore through his family home, they dug into their own personal collections to help kick start his hobby.
By Danielle Nuttall
SCHOOLBOY Ben D'Eath had spent most of his young life building up his prized fossil collection.
So when Ipswich Museum staff heard it had been totally destroyed by a fire which tore through his family home, they dug into their own personal collections to help kick start his hobby.
The 11-year-old, who attends Blackbourne Middle School in Stanton, near Bury St Edmunds, was given a special tour and commentary of Ipswich Museum and some of its most popular exhibits.
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But the biggest surprise of all came at the end of the day when he was presented with a brand new collection of fossils he could take home.
Ben's detached family home in Hopton, near Ixworth, was destroyed by fire in July last year after a 2,600 litre oil drum, a short distance from the house, was struck by lightning during a storm.
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The lightning strike unleashed a torrent of burning black fuel that headed straight for the 18th Century house, engulfing it in flames.
All but a few of the family's possessions were destroyed - including the contents of Ben's bedroom.
After hearing about what had happened, museum workers Cathryn Elmer, Stan Garrod, Sue Ling and retired geologist Bob Markham sprang into action.
Mr Markham said: “I heard this young man had lost his fossils. I had a chat with one or two geologist friends of mine and they gave me one or two pieces of fossils from different places.
“There was a variety of things. I gave him some fossil shark teeth from Abbey Wood in London and some fossil shells from Florida from a friend of mine who works as a lecturer at Cambridge University.
“It would take a long time to collect such a variety. You could spend a lot of money at shows but getting them while out would take some time.
“It's great he's taking an interest. We wanted to help.”
Ben had been collecting fossils for seven years and had made some exciting finds in his own garden.
But his mother, Louise, said the fire had virtually destroyed the contents of his bedroom.
“The few things he did have left were smoke-damaged. There was nothing left of his. It did hit him hard,” she said.
“This is a big boost for him. He was over the moon. He thought it was fantastic. They gave him some lovely things.
“Bob and Stan gave fossils from their own collections. We are very thankful. They were so kind.
“Stan gave us a personal tour and told us about the exhibits. He's very knowledgeable. It makes a difference when you know all the history.”
Ben, who wants to be a marine biologist when he grows up, said he was very happy with his new fossils and is planning to keep his eye open for more now that Stan had taught him what to look out for.
“When I was little I used to watch a programme called Walking with Beasts and I used to love Dinosaurs,” he said.
The family is hoping to rebuild their home in the coming months.