Brown unveils proposals for Diana tribute

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CONTROVERSIAL PLANS for a garden to commemorate the life of Diana, Princess of Wales, were announced yesterday along with a memorial coin and nursing teams for sick children.

The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Committee, gave details of a number of schemes after a meeting chaired by Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, at Downing Street.

Ten thousand suggests from the public and organisations were received by the committee which was set up to decide how best to remember Diana.

Mr Brown said: "The proposals which we have announced today were amongst the most popular and appropriate we received."

They would be a fitting way "not just to commemorate the life of Diana, Princess of Wales, but to continue the work she had started off - work particularly with people in need of great help."

But the garden, in particular, is likely to provoke some objections. Residents living around Kensington Gardens, west London, former home of the princess, argue the pounds 10 million scheme will bring chaos to already congested streets. They claim the proposal for a memorial walkway, gardens and a 300ft fountain will bring an influx of up to 5 million visitors a year.

Although the Department of Culture, Media and Sport said there will be public consultation, residents said it had come too late.

Joan Hanham, leader of Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council, said: "The area is open and well used for recreational purposes and the plans would change the nature of it."

Robert Buxton, of the Princess Diana Memorial Action Group, said he thought the Princess would not have wanted to see controversy among her neighbours.

The design of the pounds 5 coin which will be minted to commemorate Diana has not yet been decided, the Royal Mint said.

The front of the coin will feature the Queen's head like all legal tender in the UK and Commonwealth, but the back is likely to feature a picture of the Princess.

The decision will be made by the Royal Mint Advisory Committee, which is headed by the Duke of Edinburgh. The ordinary pounds 5 coins will be legal tender, but a spokesman said: "I don't think many people will be spending them in the shops. They are really for people to collect."

Other plans announced yesterday included an award for young achievers and a team of community nurses to support seriously ill children.

There is a severe shortage of professionals caring for dying youngsters and only half of health authorities can call on teams to help seriously ill children at home.

The Association for Children with Life Threatening or Terminal Conditions and Their Families (ACT) said none at all was available in Northern Ireland.

Stella Elston, ACT executive director, said: "Families are caring round the clock by themselves with very little support.

"GPs are not familiar enough with each of the individual conditions and the families are probably more expert than a lot of people around them. These plans would be a huge leap forward for these families."

Earl Spencer, the Princess's brother, said the committee had been united in setting forth the plans.

The "Diana medal" award will be presented to youngsters who have made an outstanding contribution to the community.

All secondary schools, including those in the independent sector and special schools, will be encouraged to take part.

Each will be able to make one award a year to a pupil or group of pupils.

A central awards office will be responsible for setting the initial guidelines, but after that each school will have its own panel to nominate award winners.

The Chancellor said that the schools awards reflected the fact that Diana had received an award for service to the public when she was at school.

It could be awarded to pupils in more than 5,500 schools across the country.