A MEMORIAL bench in memory of tragic murder victim Margaret Fleming should be put in place this year.

Former school friends launched an appeal last year to raise funds for a bench in Port Glasgow near to where the murdered teenager grew up.

Gillian Sherrard McCulloch, along with Lynn Foreman and Jon Cox, got together to think of ways of remembering Margaret.

Jon's launched an online Justgiving page which raised £1,285 for the memorial.

It will serve as a quiet place for people to think about Margaret from a time in her life when she was at her happiest.

Gillian, 39, of Oronsay Avenue, said: "Margaret has still been very much in our thoughts.

"Jon set up the Justgiving fund for when we are able to move forward with the memorial.

"We thought of a garden at first but we decided a bench would be best, with planters with flowers at each side.

"It's been a bit difficult to arrange because there is so much red tape and when the Covid restrictions came in we couldn't do anything.

"Lynn has approached Branching Out at Parklea and they were so helpful and really interested in making the bench in their workshops."

The former Slaemuir Primary pupils were distraught when it came to light that Margaret, who hadn't been seen for years, had been murdered by the people who were meant to be caring for her.

In 2019 Eddie Cairney, 77, and Avril Jones, 59, were each sentenced to a minimum of 14 years behind bars for murdering Margaret between December 1999 and January 2000.

The evil pair covered up their horrific crime for 15 years and were only caught after a benefits claim was submitted in 2016.

Margaret's body has never been found despite a huge police search.

A review is under way into how such a vulnerable person known to the care system Margaret could slip through the net of the authorities with fatal consequences.

The inquiry has also been held up by the pandemic.

Gillian said: "As soon as we have a date for the memorial bench we will announce it to let everyone know."