Reading terror attack: Family and friends pay tribute to victims at memorial service one year on

‘I don’t think we will ever recover from the loss of David, James and Joe in such a terrible way in these gardens,’ one tribute read

Leonie Chao-Fong
Sunday 20 June 2021 22:58
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<p>Joe Ritchie-Bennett, James Furlong and David Wails, the three victims of the Reading terror attack</p>

Joe Ritchie-Bennett, James Furlong and David Wails, the three victims of the Reading terror attack

Tributes have been paid to the three men who were stabbed to death during a terror attack in a park in Reading a year ago.

Family and friends of history teacher James Furlong, 36, scientist Dr David Wails, 49, and US citizen Joseph Ritchie-Bennett, 39, attended a memorial service on Sunday in Forbury Gardens, where the attack took place.

A minute’s silence was observed by the victims’ families, survivors, witnesses, and emergency services workers who responded on the day,

Speaking at the ceremony, Gary Furlong, Mr Furlong’s brother, said:  ”James was a gentle soul, kind and caring, his morals were impeccable, never swayed by personal incentives, no matter the cost and consequence to him.

“He was truly a selfless man, his life was a story of triumph over adversity, coming out as a gay man so young in a time when acceptance was not where it is today.”

Martin Cooper said his friend Joe Ritchie-Bennett “was a blessing to the entire world but most importantly a blessing to our entire family for 39 years”.

“To know Joe was to love Joe, we never met anyone who didn’t love Joe, his mere presence made you smile,” he said. “Joe was warm, he was genuine, he was welcoming, he loved people. In Joe’s heart there were no strangers, only friends he had yet to meet.”

Ken Murphy, a close friend of Dr Walis, said on behalf of family and friends: “They say time is a great healer but I don’t think we will ever recover from the loss of David, James and Joe in such a terrible way in these gardens.

“However, we pray they are now at peace and are able to look down at us, and are happy with the love shown for them and the tributes being paid to them by everyone here today.”

Three other people - Stephen Young, 51, Patrick Edwards, 29, and Nishit Nisudan, 34 - were also injured in the tragic attack last year.

The attacker, Khairi Saadallah, is serving a whole-life prison sentence for the killing after pleading guilty to three murders and three attempted murders.

In emotional victim impact statements read to the court earlier this year, bereaved relatives told of their agony and said Saadallah had “brutally killed three of the nicest men in the world”.

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