Lasting memorial for tragic toddler

County Coun Andrea Kay unveils the bench, with Yuto's parents Daz and Maki, other relatives and pupils from Northfold Primary School and (below) Yuto.
County Coun Andrea Kay unveils the bench, with Yuto's parents Daz and Maki, other relatives and pupils from Northfold Primary School and (below) Yuto.
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A LASTING tribute in memory of a tragic tot who died from a rare heart condition has been unveiled.

The family of Yuto Rice, who passed away in March, were joined by pupils from Northfold Primary School and Cleveleys councillor Andrea Kay to watch as the bench was officially opened on North Drive Park, Cleveleys.

Yuto Rice

Yuto Rice

The three-year-old, who was diagnosed with restrictive cardiomyothopy last year, captured the hearts of people in the area who raised thousands of pounds to enable Yuto’s family to care for him at home during his final months.

Coun Kay even put her fears aside and braved a parachute jump to raise funds for the bench.

She said: “It was lovely to meet up together and unveil the bench.

“We had a little sing song and said a few words about Yuto.

“We put the bench and little toadstool seats near the play area – we hope they will help keep his memory alive.

“I hope people will respect it, knowing what it means to the community.”

Around £1,000 was raised to buy the bench and toadstools.

A plaque on the bench features Yuto’s name in Japanese and a message which reads “love you always”.

His father Daz Rice said: “There isn’t a day goes by we don’t think about him.

“It was very emotional when the bench was unveiled. It was a nice moment on the park with everyone getting together.

“He used to see his brothers off at school so it was lovely to see the pupils from the school involved.

“The bench is opposite my music shop so I can see it from my front door every day which is lovely.

“Andrea raised so much money from the parachute jump and it was lovely she chose the toadstools to go with the bench as Yuto loved them.”

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