A memorial garden has been opened in memory of teenager Joe Abbess, who drowned after going swimming at Bournemouth beach.

City College Southampton raised thousands with a five-course charity dinner, with the menu designed by catering student Joe’s family and his classmates.

Joe, from Southampton, and 12-year-old Sunnah Khan, from Buckinghamshire, lost their lives after getting into difficulty in the water off Bournemouth beach on May 31, 2023.

His mum Vanessa Abbess was overwhelmed with the tribute and said: “A massive thank you for a wonderful evening in memory of our son Joe.

“It was very special and truly heart-warming that everyone worked so hard to make it such a fantastic event. He would have loved it and been so proud.”

(Image: City College)

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The fully booked event raised more than £4,000, all of which will go to the Hampshire & Isle of Wight and the Dorset & Somerset Air Ambulance charities - the latter of whom tried to save Joe's life.

City College also opened a memorial garden in Joe’s memory, which includes a dedicated herb garden, that was a collaborative project designed and created by both City College’s hospitality and carpentry and joinery students.

The garden will be a space for supporting students’ learning and well-being through gardening, as well as a quiet place for reflection.

(Image: City College)

Vanessa added: “The herb garden is stunning and will be a lasting legacy. 

“The meal was incredible and definitely the finest of fine dining, so compliments to all the chefs.

“Our family and both Air Ambulance charities are so very grateful for all the money raised.”

Joanne Pengelly, City College’s Curriculum Area Manager for Service Industries, said: “I am so proud of all involved, thankful to all sponsors, and it has been an honour to have been a part of this special evening.”

She went on to say: “The event was a bittersweet evening, but it has enabled us to remember Joe and acknowledge the huge contribution that he made to our college in the short time he was here.”