FORBURY GARDENS re-opened to the public earlier today (10th July). Reading Borough Council is encouraging people to visit the gardens in their own time for a period of quiet reflection.
The beautiful town centre gardens have been closed since the horrific events of June 20th. The police cordon around the park was lifted last week and the Council has since been carrying out maintenance works before re-opening today.
People visiting Forbury Gardens are being asked to respect the right of residents to pay their respects to James Furlong, Joe Ritchie-Bennett and David Wails in their own personal way.
Flowers laid in tribute to the victims, which had been temporarily moved from the old Post Office in Market Square to the Abbey Gateway, have now been moved onto the bandstand at Forbury Gardens, alongside flowers from the Holt School in Wokingham where James Furlong taught. While some of the flowers are almost three weeks old, the Council is leaving them on the bandstand for people to see for a period of time. Members of the public who want to remember the victims by laying flowers are asked to do so at the Forbury Gardens bandstand.
Working alongside local company Yes Events, from tonight Reading Borough Council will be illuminating the historic Maiwand Lion and the Forbury bandstand for two hours each night, between 9pm and 11pm, in an act of remembrance and hope. The temporary lighting display will be in position for a period of 2 weeks and is being provided at no cost to the Council.
Thames Valley Police has put an Information Point in place in Forbury Gardens, which will be in place today (Friday July 10th) through to Sunday July 12th. Reading’s Street Pastors will also have a presence in the gardens between 12pm-1pm and 7.30pm – 8.30pm each day, again for period of a week, to offer support to those who need it.
Jason Brock, Leader of Reading Borough Council, said:
It is now nearly three weeks since the horrific events at Forbury Gardens, which nobody in Reading will ever forget. As always, our thoughts remain firmly with the families of James, Joe and David. Now that the Gardens have re-opened, we fully appreciate that people will want to visit in their own time and for a period of quiet reflection. Everybody is, of course, more than welcome to do that and see flowers that have been laid to pay tribute to the victims, or to lay a tribute themselves. The Forbury’s Maiwand Lion quickly became a symbol of Reading’s response to the events of June 20th. Over the coming weeks we will be marking that magnificent and dignified response by lighting up both the historic statue and the Forbury bandstand in an act of remembrance and hope.”
Reading Borough Council has set up a website at http://together.reading.gov.uk where people can access a range of support, including emotional support, counselling and trauma support, as well as information in the aftermath of the June 20th attacks. A book of condolence sits on the site. It is also where people can donate to the families of those who died and anyone affected by the attack.
Working with the families of the victims, all those harmed by the event and the local community, the Council has committed to create a permanent memorial at an appropriate time where people will be able to pay their respects to those who lost their lives.