The parents of Ben Gillham-Rice, Jason and Suzanne, have released the following tribute following the sentencing of five people for his murder in Milton Keynes.
How do we put into words what has happened, or tell anybody how we are feeling?
How do we put into words how much Ben meant to us and so many others that he touched during his 17 years?
As parents, we only wanted to protect, love and watch Ben grow.
We wanted to watch him explore his dreams and ambitions as he went through life.
All of these ambitions have been taken away.
So, what was Ben like?
Well, there really aren’t enough words to describe our son.
From an early age, Ben was somebody that everyone would move towards in a room due to his unique personality, which led to him being voted for an award at his prom for being the funniest in his school.
He always made time for people around him. He was so caring towards others. He was thoughtful with the older generation and patient with the younger.
Ben truly had time for everyone and never judged anyone, no matter who they were.
Our Ben never really liked school from a young age, crying nearly every day and making his mum feel so guilty.
Even as Ben went through his school years, he continued to work through his dislike for it, never giving up on his education and stuck with it, finishing exams with a positive, but laid back attitude.
Ben would say, ‘Mum, dad, I’ll do my best, but exams will not define me as a person. I am going to make something of myself regardless.’
Never a truer word than that came from Ben.
Ben loved football, not just playing for his local team, Newport Pagnell, but also on his PlayStation where he would host many football nights with his friends.
We miss the sound of his voice coming from his room while playing with his friends. Now the house is so painfully quiet.
Another one of Ben’s pastimes was to go and watch Spurs with his brother at White Hart Lane, using their season tickets to their full advantage.
His brother, Jakey, hasn’t been able to bring himself to go back to the stadium without his brother.
Football at home without Ben is only bearable because his friends come around to watch with Jakey and us. But there is a sadness because his opinionated passionate voice can no longer be heard.
Ben’s friends regularly contact us, always taking time out to visit when they return from their university studies.
They are a lovely, sincere group of friends, who have been close to Ben since he was four-years-old.
They are struggling to understand and cope with the pain and loss of their friend.
Ben’s friends take it upon themselves to do the things Ben would have done, such as send flowers on mother’s day, thoughtful messages on special occasions, such as birthdays and Christmas.
We really can’t express how much they help to try and comfort us, all while trying to deal with losing a friend.
We are so proud of our Benny Boy.
He had so many ambitions and dreams to achieve. He had an apprenticeship in the construction industry, working alongside his dad and business partners.
As well as learning his trades, Ben negotiated deals for plots of land for us to develop.
He really was a natural entrepreneur for someone so young.
As a Dad, it was incredible watching Ben grow into an ambitious and driven young man.
Ben would often be found telling his mum about how neat the brickwork was on houses, or how to mix cement. He would share what his day was like and she was so proud of him.
While working at the Duke of Bedford’s estate, Ben was told to stay out of the way while the Duke and Duchess were carrying out an inspection of the work.
Ben could be seen, not staying out of the way, but waving and saying hello to the Duke and Duchess.
Ben was then invited to their home for a tour. He loved history, and so was full of conversation with the Duke and Duchess.
He was totally absorbed in the history and paintings of their home.
We also like to think that they enjoyed their time with Ben.
Ben has not only been taken away from his mum and dad, but his brother Jakey, his nan, Dene and Shelley and the rest of his family and friends.
We are still in a state of shock, and no one can begin to understand what the loss of our boy has done to us all.
He was the largest character in our family and his death has affected so many people. We all struggle without Ben – he really is loved by so many.
Jakey, Ben’s older brother, has struggled every day since the loss of Ben. He searches for answers every day, and can’t find them. As a family, we struggle to give him answers, which is even more upsetting for us.
Ben would always give his mum and me great comfort where his brother was concerned. From an early age, Ben would say to us about his brother, ‘Don’t worry about Jakey, I’ve got this, I’ve got him, he’s going to be OK with me no matter what.’
Ben and Jakey’s bond was so strong; they would truly support and advise one another.
When the call came that Ben had been stabbed, our hearts sank.
We did not know he had been murdered, we believed he would be OK. We thought he’s only just left to go to a party with his glow sticks.
Once we were told that he had died, our lives changed forever. There is not a second of the day that we don’t think of Ben.
Our hearts have been shattered like a piece of glass that will never be put back to together.
Ben had his whole life ahead of him. He really was going to achieve whatever he wanted in life.
Our family and friends are left with a numb feeling that makes you sick to the stomach.
We wake up every day praying this is all a bad dream and that our boy will return. But the reality is it’s a living nightmare that doesn’t end.
There’s not a single day we don’t cry. Our lives will never be the same.
There are days when we think life is still worth living. Honestly, we struggle to carry on every day. Is it for Ben or is it because of our anger, or for our son Jakey?
We have no answers. None of us live any more, we have just found an existence, until we are with Ben again.
We will never see our boy again. We will never hear his voice or his laugh.
We will never experience those things that you look forward to as parents; Ben learning to drive, meeting a girl, settling down, starting a family of his own.
He would have been an amazing dad with his caring nature.
Never will we get that cuddle that only Ben could give us, the kiss every time he left the house, and those precious words ‘I love you’.
There is nothing we wouldn’t give to have him back with us.
People say time is a healer, but we will never heal from this.
Our lives are so different without our son. How do we move forward with our lives when the best part of it has been taken away, our Benny Boy