Hungerford split over memorial

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The Independent Online
Ten years after the Hungerford tragedy, when gunman Michael Ryan shot dead 16 people before killing himself, the Berkshire market town is bitterly divided over how to mark the anniversary, writes Ros Wynne- Jones.

Relatives of those who died have been sent a letter by the town council informing them that no memorial service will be held on 19 August "in the interests of the community". But several families, who say they have not been consulted, want a full memorial service.

"We feel that some people in Hungerford just want to forget the tragedy ever happened and that they don't want the town to be associated with it," said Tony Hill, whose daughter Sandra, 22, was Ryan's youngest victim. "It would be inconceivable for the people of Dunblane to be denied a memorial service."

Kay Wainwright, whose father was killed and mother wounded, said: "Life goes on, but the tragedy should be marked in a way agreed by relatives. Hungerford just wants to be seen as a pretty market town. It makes me angry. I think some people are ashamed of what happened. But they can't turn the clock back by refusing to admit it happened."

Resentment among some families began with the first memorial, a plaque on the edge of town simply stating "The Hungerford Tragedy. August 19th 1987". "You couldn't get any more subtle if you tried," said one relative. "It's on a scrappy bit of land next to the football club." A list of the dead was added before a low-key dedication on 27 July, a date chosen by the council "to avoid unnecessary publicity". Another list is at St Lawrence's church.

The Mayor of Hungerford, Paul Cable, said the council had not been approached by relatives asking for a memorial service. "We do not consider 10 years to be any more significant than years one or two or three and we have never marked any of those," he said.

Special report, page 5