The Wokingham Paper

Online vigil at 7pm on Saturday to remember the lives of Forbury Gardens terror victims

James Furlong, Joe Ritchie-Bennett and David Wails
James Furlong, Joe Ritchie-Bennett and David Wails

A CORONAVIRUS-friendly way to honour the three men who died in a terror attack in Reading will take place tomorrow evening. 

Residents are being asked to stop what they’re doing at 7pm on Saturday, June 27, and light a candle on their doorstep or in their windows as a mark of respect to James Furlong, Joe Ritchie-Bennett and David Wails. 

This event is timed to take place exactly a week after the tragic events in Forbury Gardens, and the event has been organised by Reading Borough Council. 

A livestream on social media will see our neighbouring borough’s mayor, Cllr David Stevens, speak on behalf of community leaders and groups across the town, followed by the lighting of a remembrance candle.

It is planned to hold a fitting event when Covid-19 restrictions are lifted. 

Reading Borough Council said that Saturday’s vigil is one of a number of ways in which it is working to support all those harmed by the attacks and to remember the victims, working alongside community organisations, partners and Thames Valley Police, in collaboration with family liaison officers and the families of the victims.

Other initiatives include:

  • Setting up a #ReadingTogether support and information site at together.reading.gov.uk. The site contains a range of information including where to find support in the aftermath of the attacks.
  • Opening an online book of condolence at together.reading.gov.uk/book-of-condolence/
  • Establishing an official #ReadingTogether fund to support the victims, the families of those who have died, and anyone who has been affected by this tragedy.
  • When the time is right, working with the families of the victims, all those harmed by the event and the local community to create a permanent memorial where people can pay their respects to those who lost their lives.

Reading Borough Council leader Jason Brock said: “There is an overwhelming sense of grief within the Reading community about last Saturday’s tragic events. 

“The Council and public are united in their desire to mourn the victims and appropriately remember them. 

“We are encouraging people to pay their respects with us online on Saturday evening, and also to mourn and contribute via the book of condolence and supporting the #ReadingTogether fund.”

The intention is to ensure that James, Joe and David are never forgotten, and the council said that its thoughts and prayers remain with the family and close friends of all three, and it is also standing together with all those who have been harmed by the attacks – whether physically or mentally.

Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police, John Campbell added: “A week on from the tragic incident in Reading, Thames Valley Police is proud to be coming together in solidarity with the community to remember the three innocent men, David, James and Joseph, who lost their lives.

“In times of such tragedy, we often see the best of our communities and that has certainly been the case in Reading.

“I know it will take time for everyone to heal but we stand alongside you and will do all that we can to support you, as your Police.”

The online vigil can be joined via a live stream on the Council’s Facebook page www.facebook.com/Readingcouncil

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