WARRINGTON town centre will fall silent next Tuesday, (March 20) to mark the 25th anniversary of the Warrington bombing.
A commemoration service, attended by HRH The Princess Royal, will be held on Bridge Street attended by the families of victims of the attack, faith leaders and representatives of the British and Irish governments.
Warrington Male Voice Choir and choirs from Sankey High School and Barrow Hall Primary School will sing at the commemoration. Wreaths will be laid at 12.25pm with a minute’s silence at 12.27pm.
The event commemorates the darkest day in the town’s modern history when two IRA bombs exploded on Bridge Street, killing 12-year-old Tim Parry and three-year-old Johnathan Ball. More than 50 people were injured.
For me personally, it is a day I will never forget for the rest of my life. As a young journalist I suddenly saw my home town thrust onto the TV screens and the front pages of newspapers around for the world with everyone asking the simple question “Why Warrington?”
Three-year-old Johnathan, the son of the late Wilf and Marie Ball, died at the scene, while Tim, the son of peace campaigners Colin and Wendy Parry, died five days later when his life support was switched off with his family by his side.
More than 50 shoppers were injured, several seriously including 32-year-old Bronwen Vickers, the mother of two young daughters, who had to have a leg amputated and died just over a year later from cancer.
No one was ever brought to justice for the atrocity which captured media attention and public outrage around the world, playing a major part in bringing about the Good Friday agreement.
From the atrocity came Warrington’s pioneering Peace Centre, the dream of Tim’s mum Wendy, to help keep the memory of the boys alive.
In the days, weeks, months and years following the bombing, it has been truly inspirational to see how something positive can be created from something so negative.
Warrington’s response and in particular Colin and Wendy’s unbelievable strength, ensured a lasting legacy, one I am extremely proud to be a Patron of. Our council and civic leaders must also take great credit for the way they responded to the tragedy.
I have made many friends over the years, not just here in Warrington but also over in Ireland. Friendships which will last a life time. I wish I could name all the inspirational people I have met over the years but I would undoubtedly miss someone – but you know who you all are. It is certainly a time of reflection for me. Later the same year I married, and soon had two beautiful daughters and now a granddaughter. I have seen Tim’s brother Dom and sister Abbie grow up and have families of their own. There have been fun times and sad times but always a determination to ensure the memory of the two boys will live on in the name of peace and reconciliation – not just here in Warrington – but around the world.
Atrocities continue on a daily basis and it is more important than ever that we recognise and support the work of the Foundation for Peace as I like many, believe educating our young people is the only real chance we have of living in harmony – still a distant dream in reality as there will always be splinter organisations who want to destroy our way of life – a way of life we should be able to all live in peace with mutual respect and understanding, whatever our religion, race or creed.
The Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Peace Foundation (Peace Foundation) was founded as an independent charity working nationally and internationally to support those affected by terrorism and violent conflict.
The Peace Foundation’s Survivors Assistance Network (SAN) was also created and is now a specialist service offering practical and emotional support to victims of terrorism.
The charity is supporting individuals affected by recent terrorist incidents such as Manchester Arena, Borough Market and Westminster Bridge, as well as continuing to offer life-long support to victims of previous attacks.
SAN has worked with over 700 individuals in the past 12 months alone.
Due to the size of the event and the security procedures in place members of the public who are not planning on attending the event are advised to avoid the town centre for the duration of the service.
The following road closures will be in place next Tuesday.
• From 5am on 20 March 2018 and up to around 3pm there will be road closures and restrictions on some pedestrian access.
• Closure in place from 9 am along Sankey Street from Legh Street to Bold Street. Please be aware there will no access or return until after the event finishes at approximately 1.30 pm.
• Cairo Street from Egypt Street to Sankey Street will be closed from 5am. No vehicles permitted between these times
• Buttermarket Street from the junction with Scotland Road will be closed from 5am – access prohibited.
• Town Centre (Bridge Street, Horsemarket Street, Buttermarket Street, Sankey Street) no access for deliveries on the day until approximately 2pm
• Horrocks Lane will be close from 5am. No vehicles permitted up until approximately 1.30pm.
For those who can’t attend the event warrington-worldwide will be filming it live on our facebook page.
The #UniqueAchievement Campaign, taken from words spoken by Colin at Tim’s funeral “If my son becomes a symbol for peace and gives everyone a new sense of hope after so much tragedy, that will be Tim’s unique achievement”. Words that came true! #TimParryJohnathanBall @peacecentre pic.twitter.com/5AuRn0jS3h
— Wendy Parry (@WendyParry4P) March 13, 2018
Take part in our Colours for Peace event on the 20th March. A simple dress down day wearing the colours of our charity… white, green or blue and donate a £1.00 to the Peace Foundation.. Make it your way of remembering Tim Parry & Johnathan Ball #ColoursforPeace25 #peacecentre pic.twitter.com/pl5GWJUNF4
— Wendy Parry (@WendyParry4P) March 10, 2018
25 years ago my son Tim went to Warrington to buy a Mothers Day card & a pair of Everton shorts. The IRA bomb made sure he never returned home.
Please join our Unique Achievement Campaign and help to raise the funds we need to continue delivering our programmes to young people pic.twitter.com/oayeRBtWQQ
— Wendy Parry (@WendyParry4P) March 9, 2018