A Beautiful Garden, A Sombre Day - by Mary Jolliffe
My initial feelings on seeing our Memorial Garden in Grosvenor
Square were that of intense sadness that it was necessary
to have such a Memorial, mixed with pride that our loved
ones are being honoured and remembered in this way. The
plants reflected the loving care with which they had been
chosen, planted and tended. Masses of tall, white lilies
contrasted to the many shades of green that was all around.
Each plant reflecting poignant memories as they were chosen
by the families. On a purely personal note, one perfect
little rose was blooming for Dainty Dinah, near to the Rosemary
for remembrance of Neil.
The weeks leading up to the Anniversary had been particularly
painful, as each day was relived over and over again. Music
was played by the Thoresby Colliery Welfare Band as we were
taking our seats, and later during the ceremony, it helped
to soothe our feelings a little and was much appreciated.
It meant a lot to us that Dame Judi Dench had made special
plans in order to join us and, as was the case at our earlier
Memorial Services, her reading of Christina Rossetti’s
poem “Remember” touched many hearts.
Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal undertook the formal
opening of the Memorial Garden and in a short address she
expressed the feelings of so many people who would like
to be of some help to the bereaved families except, they
did not know how. She hoped that some comfort would be derived
from having a dedicated place to visit and that the Garden
would remain a living memorial where a little peace might
be found and which future generations could continue to
Princess Anne then placed a single white rose on the centre-piece
Memorial Stone, inviting representatives of each family
to lay a rose. Photographs and cards were added to these
by some people and this part of the ceremony – although
we needed to be part of it - became almost unbearable, the
weight of grief was heavy in the air. A final rose was placed
by Firefighter James Kerwin from Ladder 33 of the New York
City Fire Department, to commemorate all those members of
the emergency services who laid down their lives.
We were particularly pleased that Sophie Brandt, from the
British Red Cross was able to be with us that afternoon,
her last time with us before her next assignment in Zimbabwe.
The help Sophie has given to so many families, both practical
and emotional, is immeasurable and she has become a personal
friend to all who have had contact with her. She read Henry
van Dyke’s moving words on Time.
At the end of the formal proceedings we were grateful to
find that refreshments had been prepared for us in a large
marquee set up in the Square. There were many people we
had not met before and it was an opportunity to exchange
experiences, it is remarkable how our common bond makes
it natural to talk to each other with a depth that is not
always easy to achieve in everyday life. It was evident
that many families have found this second year even more
difficult than the first, this Anniversary in particular.
Many of us were able to speak to Princess Anne, who showed
a genuine interest in talking with us.
We would like to thank all those who looked after us with
such kindness, some from the DCMS and many others we did
not know, each one of them in their own way helped us to
get through the day.