A bench dedicated to 16-year-old Archie Thomas is back where it belongs thanks to North Devon people after travelling 60 miles from Port Isaac to Saunton Sands

Archie Thomas pictured at Port Isaac, a place he loved.Archie Thomas pictured at Port Isaac, a place he loved.

A memorial bench to a teenager that travelled 60 miles by sea to be washed up at Saunton has been returned home thanks to the generosity of North Devon people.

Kathryn Challis from Braunton found the bench dedicated to Archie Thomas while she walked her dogs at Saunton Sands on New Years Day.

She appealed on Facebook and a lot of web-sleuthing later, with help from Grace Brown in Barnstaple, the mystery was revealed.

The bench was dedicated to Archie Thomas from Worcester and had been at Port Isaac in North Cornwall, a place he loved before his untimely death of a brain tumour just short of his 16th birthday in 1985.

Emily and Michael Thomas with the bench back at Port Isaac, a place much loved by Archie.Emily and Michael Thomas with the bench back at Port Isaac, a place much loved by Archie.

Through her partner Jasper Rees, his sister Emily Thomas got in touch with Kathryn and on Saturday at Braunton she and her father Michael were reunited with the bench and the lady who found it.

They were joined by Barnstaple contract cleaner Chris Easton, who offered to transport 'Archie' home free of charge - and by teatime Archie was back where he belonged.

It touched a chord with Chris, whose family set up the charity Everything Ellie in memory of their daughter who also died aged 16. The charity has a beach hut on Saunton which is available for families with ill children to use for a day at the beach.

Emily said the Thomas family wanted to say a huge thank you to everybody for their help. They hadn't known the bench was gone but have since heard it washed away in a big storm two or three weeks before Christmas.

"It feels as if I have been given a reconnection with my brother, time feels irrelevant. Archie was an amazing boy and very spirited, but he was diagnosed with a brain tumour aged three.

"Port Isaac was a safe place for him and a place that he loved. So many people have come forward to help, through Kathryn and Facebook, I am just amazed by the response."

Chris, who runs CJE Solutions, said they had followed the story of 'Archie's bench' on Facebook: "When they said the relatives had been found, I thought I had to ring up hand see if I could help," he said.

"It's humbling to see people helping; it puts your faith back into human nature."

Archie's dad Michael added: "How caring, kind, thoughtful, interested and determined to solve it everyone has been on our behalf. We are so thrilled with the way we have all got together and made contact - today is a very special day for us."