A bespoke handmade bench has been installed along the riverside footpath in Giggleswick in memory of a 21-year-old soldier from Settle who lost his life in Afghanistan.

The bench was designed and built by pupils from Settle College and is dedicated to former student Private Matthew Haseldin who was killed in an insurgent attack in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province on November 3, 2011.

It marks the second stage of improvements to the footpath and access along the river Ribble in Settle and Giggleswick.

As well as making the new bench, technology students at Settle College refurbished an older bench and information panels and produced a new panel based on the North Craven area.

Now the riverside – once only accessible to the most able-bodied – is enjoyed by people of all abilities every day.

William Bancroft, principal of Settle College, said: “The improvements to the riverside over the last five years have created a tremendous asset for the community.

“The students here have been very keen to be involved and having made the new bench asked that it should be dedicated to Matthew Haseldin. I am delighted that the college has been able to give something so significant to the community.”

A visit to the riverside and memorial bench was organised by Clapham-based charity Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT), the lead partner in the riverside development project.

Many of the organisations and individuals involved in making the project possible were also in attendance, including students and staff from Settle College, staff from Giggleswick School, North Yorkshire County Council, Craven District Council, Lafarge Tarmac, Derbyshire Environmental Trust and Yorkshire Dales LEADER, along with local councillors and members of the Settle business community.

The group walked along the riverside to see how the area is now being used by the local community following the improvements, before viewing the high-quality bench constructed by the students.

Dave Tayler, deputy director at YDMT, said: “I hope that the route will continue to provide a safe and attractive environment that is accessible to everyone, including cyclists, people with limited mobility and wheelchair users and families with prams and young children.

“It has already brought huge social benefits to the local community and is in almost constant use, representing excellent value for money.”

l Matthew’s friends have organised a charity night at Settle Social Club on Saturday, August 3.

A Night for Haseldin will raise money for Help for Heroes.

Tickets costing £5 are available from the Social Club or by ringing 07964 937349 or 07582 150040. Admission on the door will be £7.50.