Determined Brockley residents have rallied around to replace two memorial benches that were cruelly stolen from the community.

The benches, which were unveiled in the Crofton Park Railway Garden in June and funded by the sale of Crofton Park tote bags, were reported missing from the garden two weeks ago.

READ MORE: Crofton Park Railway Garden memorial benches stolen

One of the benches was installed in memory of Rudi Piscina, who owned Longhorn Diner in Crofton Park and was known fondly as ‘Chef Rudi’.

After Rudi died suddenly aged 52 in March, his family thanked the “wonderful” community for supporting the family and helping to fund the bench.

When the memorial bench was unveiled, it was engraved with the words: “Loving you is easy. Forgetting you is impossible,” which were written by Rudi’s mum, Maria, and translated from Italian.

News Shopper:

The bench was engraved with a message from Rudi's family

But the family was left reeling after finding out the memorial to their beloved father, son and husband had been nicked.

Aldo Piscina, Rudi’s son, told News Shopper: “It’s just so selfish and cruel and vile. What scumbag would do this to my family?

“I’m feeling really volatile because of this.

“I didn’t think it would affect me this much. At the end of the day, it’s just a plank of wood, but that means so much more to me than looking at a grave because it’s so much more positive.”

READ MORE: Family of Brockley diner owner who died suddenly remembers 'cheeky' community champion

However, the community has hit back at the petty thieves by pulling together once again to raise money for new benches.

The Crofton Park Railway Garden Committee’s fundraising page, which was originally set up to raise money for the garden in general, has organised a specific appeal for the benches to raise £3,000 – and generous residents have already racked up a total of £200.

It is hoped people will continue to contribute to the page to fund other aspects of the garden such as gardening equipment and trees.

The page reads: "Thank you everyone for your generous offers of support after the theft incident on Friday 12th July.

"We are so happy the garden has been well used over the last few weeks and hope this little incident won’t stop us from continuing to make this a great community space for all to continue to enjoy."

Speaking to News Shopper after the benches were reported missing, Aldo praised the community once again for its kindness.

Through tears, he said: “This has made us stronger. I can’t believe how astounding people are and how they have rallied around me and my family in times of trouble.”