Life

By Dan Coles

 

A teenager has spent two years reuniting families with commemorative bricks, many of which were dedicated to their lost loved-ones.

In 2017 West Ham united announced the demolition of their football ground which included two walls made up of 1400 bricks, many of them were dedicated to a fan that is no longer with us.

When 17-year-old die-hard Hammers fan Jonjo Heuerman, from Kent, found out the bricks could be saved he refused to let the commemorative bricks be demolished.

For the last two years Jonjo has been reuniting families with the bricks including many that were laid in their loved ones memories and of the 1000 bricks he saved, has reunited almost 500 of them to the families and fans.

The hero teen’s mum, Donna, 52, has been lumbered with 1000 bricks in her back garden for almost a year but says her son is doing something so wonderful that if needed she would happily house 1000 more.

Jonjo said: “When I found out that the wall was going to be demolished it just seemed like such a waste of these bricks that meant so much to so many people.

“I built a good relationship with the construction company and they said they would save as many of them as they could.

“I had them delivered to West Ham United Supporters Club where they were initially stored.  When the old Supporters Club building was mothballed, they were moved to our house and we have been working through them ever since.

“I created a group on Facebook and started to invite West Ham fans from all over the country, I posted pictures of the bricks looking for the families they were inscribed for.

“I didn’t expect to get any returns but so many people have come forward, and we now arrange collection days and deliveries where we can.

“We arrange for around 50 bricks to be picked up at one time and the most amazing part is hearing the stories behind each brick, it makes it all worthwhile.

“One story that really sticks out is a lady who lost her 8 year old grandson to a car accident when on his way to his friend’s house.

“They had a brick placed in his name nearly 20 years ago and she said it was like she had been given a piece of him back.

“It was a really emotional moment and it showed us that these bricks might seem like nothing to someone, but everything to someone else.”

Donna added: “I can’t say I was thrilled to have 1000 bricks in my garden, but when I knew why I was all for it.

“He has been fundraising since he was eight and has been honoured by the royal family for raising almost £350,000 for The Bobby Moore Fund for Cancer Research UK.

“This was a bigger job than usual when it comes to his fundraising but I’m really enjoying it and I so very proud of Jonjo.

“He lost his grandmother to bowel cancer when he was eight and has been raising money for the charity ever since.”

It was in 2017 when Jonjo realised that a cherished wall in his favoured football club would be torn down, each brick of the wall was inscribed to commemorate a fan of the club, mostly when they had passed, but sometimes to mark their first game or as a gift from a family member.

He contacted the construction company and asked to have the bricks sent to him so he could reunite the families with the bricks they had inscribed.

It took a couple of months but one day he finally received confirmation that 1000 bricks have been saved and he could arrange for them to be delivered to him.

When the Supporters Club closed he realised he didn’t have anywhere to put this bricks he asked his mum if he could store them in the back garden whilst he continued to find the owners of each brick.

Jonjo said: “I couldn’t just let them go to waste, I knew that each brick told a story about a person I would have been friends with if I had known them, we all support the Hammers.

“West Ham United had replicated the inscriptions onto new stones at The London Stadium but the original bricks carried so much sentiment.”

Donna added: “It was a shock of course, but I couldn’t say no, I knew why we had to take them, and I supported my son.”

Since the delivery, in 2017, he has reunited families from all over the country, and in other parts of the world, with their cherished inscribed bricks.

He set up a Facebook group and started inviting West Ham fans from all over, posting pictures of the bricks and hoped that he would get some responses from the families the bricks were laid for.

Jonjo was inundated with responses from people who wanted to claim the bricks.

Jonjo said: “It’s such a pleasure to meet these people.

“Everyone has a story and each one is as unique as the last, I figure that if I can give 1000 families a piece of their history then it’s all worth it.

“I’m a huge believer in doing the right thing, and this feels right.”

Donna added: “We’ve still got a long way to go but so far it’s going well, and the bricks can stay for as long as they need.”

 

To donate to Jonjos cause: http://www.justgiving.com/fornannyandbobby