The Wokingham Paper

Victims were “great supporters” of the LGBTQ+ community

The chief executive of Reading Pride said that Mr Furlong and Mr Ritchie-Bennett were "great supporters" of the LGBTQ+ community

THE CHIEF executive of Reading Pride has paid tribute to James Furlong and Joe Ritchie-Bennett, the two named victims from the weekend attacks.

Martin Cooper told BBC News that Mr Furlong and Mr Ritchie-Bennett were “great supporters” of the LGBTQ+ community.

He said: “It was always a pleasure drinking and socialising and just being in their company.

“They should be remembered as extremely friendly gentlemen who were always fun, engaging and a pleasure to be around.

“They were their own little support network for anybody to offload their troubles and concerns and gave great advice.

“They will be sorely missed by myself personally and many in the community. Their loss is a tragedy to so many people.”

Mr Cooper said he knew Mr Ritchie-Bennett for four years and Mr Furlong for at least two years. 

He added: “It was a horrific attack, an absolute atrocity to take unsuspecting people like that — it’s such a tragic loss of life.

“We need to ensure a thorough investigation is done to understand why and how this happened and to ensure it never happens to anyone else again.”

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