2008 archive material

28 February 2008

Daily Mail article

The Daily Mail of 28th February 2008, printed an article on the Bethnal Green Tube disaster which you can read here.

2 March 2008

The 65th Anniversary Memorial Service, 2nd March 2008

What a week it has been! The article in the Daily Mail on 28th February kicked things off. After that the phone didn’t stop ringing. Alf Morris, our chairman, was interviewed on TV, radio and in newspapers constantly. The rest of the committee also appeared in print and on radio in the hopes that as many people as possible knew about the upcoming anniversary. The Memorial Service on Sunday 2nd March at St. John on Bethnal Green Church was, I hope those who attended will agree, moving and comforting.

There were many tears shed that afternoon, particular as the names of the 173 people were read out. I think that being Mothering Sunday made it all the more poignant. Fr. Alan Green conducted a perfect Service, judging by the reactions and comments of all those I spoke to afterwards. His Address also gave us hope and encouragement to carry on with the work of trying to erect a fitting Memorial over the steps where the tragedy occurred.

Following the Service I brought people up-to-date briefly on the latest developments and fund-raising(more later)and introduced the committee members to the audience. Then Bernard Kops read from his autobiography. Bernard is a true East Ender, a prolific author, playwright and poet who has written extensively for radio and TV. He wrote the first TV programme “It’s a lovely Day Tomorrow” about the disaster in the mid 1970’s. His reading was a very moving description of the event from one who was there and felt the pain of the day and the resulting reprisals that followed. It brought spontaneous applause from the congregation.

We then all walked across the road (with the traffic held at bay, thanks to the wonderful local police) and crowded around the top of the steps while everyone laid flowers and wreaths on the railings above the stairs where our loved ones died.

The Last Post was played, a minute’s silence held, then Reveille – thanks to 444 (Shoreditch) Sqn Air Cadets Band (who also entertained everyone outside the church before the Servcie). Fr. Alan Green gave a blessing and then Laurel Cray let off the white doves, which we all thought was a wonderful finale to the day.

The TV and still cameras continued to roll and Alf was interviewed again and photographed with Cllr. Ann Jackson, the Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Cllr. Joshua Peck and Andrew Rosindell (MP for Romford), who were on hand to offer their help and support (along with Andrew’s mother) and also John Biggs from the GLA. Barbara Windsor was sorry that she could not attend at the last minute as her filming schedule went on into the weekend and Len Goodman, of Strictly Come Dancing, (who lost a cousin in the disaster) had to fly to America that day, but will lend a hand when he returns. George Galloway, the local MP, had planned to attend, but was unwell on the day. However, there was a full compliment of representatives from Tower Hamlets council and Transport for London plus Commander John Ludgate (Deputy Lieutenant of Greater London), Pearly Kings & Queens, and the Emergency Services who will be honoured on the memorial due to their invaluable help at the time of the disaster. Thank you all very much for joining us on such an important day for those affected by the disaster. We were particularly pleased to see so many survivors and families of those who died. It was the first time that some had visited the church since that dreadful night, when it was used as a makeshift mortuary. I know just how much courage it had taken for them to come along. I hope I have not left anyone out.

Everyone was then invited back to the Church for refreshments – kindly donated by Tesco’s of Bethnal Green Road, to watch the DVD produced by Mauro Galluzzo and his fellow students at St. Mary’s college, plus the exhibitions of photographs and cuttings supplied by Doreen & Diane Kendall and the local historical society. Our thanks to everyone who helped and contributed to the day and especially to everyone who attended the Service as it was wonderful to see the church full to capacity.. We, on the committee, were very thankful for all your support, espeically with the donations given on the day which amounted to just over £1000. We hope that you all felt it was a successful day.

65th Anniversary Memorial Service photographs


Across the street.

South East view.

Park view.

2 March 2008

Letter of support from Ken Livingstone.

London Mayor Ken Livingstone has added his support. Click here to read his letter.

19 March 2008

Andrew Rosindell’s Early Day Motion

You may have seen something on the news over Easter about the tube disaster as Andrew Rosindell MP has put down an Early Day Motion (see below) marking and commemorating the 65th anniversary of the disaster and commending the campaign to erect the Stairway to Heaven Memorial. So if you could please phone your MP’s local office (the phone number should appear in your local telephone directory under either Labour, Conservative or Lib Dems, depending on which party your MP is), or e-mail them on their website (just Google their name) or write to them. Please ask them to sign the Early Day Motion number 1238 (for Bethnal Green tube disaster – apparently there are two with the same number !!) as that would really help us. Please do this as quickly as possible as it only lasts until the next Parliamentary recess so time is not on our side and the more signatures we receive the better for us. However if your MP is a cabinet minister they are not allowed to sign EDM’s.

EDM 1238


Rosindell, Andrew

That this House marks and commemorates the 65th anniversary of the Bethnal Green tube shelter disaster; celebrates the 173 lives, including 62 children, that were tragically lost on 3rd March 1943 when a panicked crowd surged into the air raid shelter in the station trapping people on the stairs and causing a fatal crush; recognises and applauds the efforts and bravery of the Civil Defence Force, emergency services and local community in recovering and treating the wounded and retrieving the dead in what was the worst civilian accident of the war accounting for a third of Bethnal Green war-time civilian fatalities; and acknowledges and commends the campaign by the Stairway to Heaven Memorial Trust, notably those involved with the memorial service at St. John on Bethnal Green, in establishing a fitting memorial to commemorate the tragedy and a lasting tribute.

22 March 2008

Collection at Leyton Orient

The collection at Leyton Orient football club on 22nd March went very well. We raised £432 (give or take a few foreign coins!!), so it was well worth braving the snow and cold. Thank you to everyone who helped out, especially Pearly King John Walters and his son Darren and sister Peggy. They made quite a spectacular show and really helped the collection. I understand they were shown on Sky TV yesterday too, so well done to them and thanks very much.

Also a special thanks to the Leyton Orient football ground management for allowing us to collect on the day and to print a report in the match programme. Also to Rev. Kevin Scully for talking about the disaster to the supporters during the interval. And of course to all the supporters who contributed to the collection. We are very grateful to everyone for their help.

12 April 2008

REUNION/GET-TOGETHER Saturday 12th April

It was good to see so many survivors and families of those who died at the
reunion/get-together event on Saturday 12th April. We hope it helped a lot
of you by being able to talk about the Bethnal Green tube disaster to people
who understood or were in the same situation.

Margaret McKay and Susan Butler.

Margaret McKay met Susan Butler, daughter of the lady that saved her life
when Margaret was just 6 months old, and her mother handed her to Susan’s
mother. Margaret’s mother did not survive the disaster, so if she had not
been passed over to Susan’s mother then Margaret would not be here today.
Sadly, Margaret’s father did not tell her anything about her late mother, so
she is desperate to find out if anybody knew her mother – Ellen Ridgway or
the Edwards family – who lived in Brierly Street before the disaster, please
contact the committee. Also, there was a lady who apparently owned a shop in
Bethnal Green who wanted to adopt Margaret when her mother died. We are
still trying to trace her as she would also have known Margaret at the time.
We think she might have attended the 65th Anniversary Memorial Service.

Margaret would also like to speak to the other children under 16 who lost a
parent in the disaster and had to collect the money in the trust fund at the
Town Hall when they were 21 years old, as she did. There were 6 children in
all, so Margaret would like to speak to the other 5.

Barry Woolnough only found out after his father had died, that his first
wife and daughter had died in the disaster. Barry found a folder of papers
with the death certificates, photographs and cuttings about the tube
disaster in it and put two and two together. His father had said nothing to
him about it and had obviously married again and Barry was his only
surviving child. Barry came to the reunion and was lucky to meet a lady who
lived opposite his father at the time of the disaster and therefore knew his
first wife and daughter and they were able to speak at some length which has
helped Barry too.

Alf Morris, our Chairman, gave an account of the dreadful experience he
suffered being the last child to be pulled out alive. Many of his friends
were not so lucky. Alf is still trying to trace the family of Mrs. Chumley,
the warden who saved his life by pulling him out, initially by his hair,
then managed to get her arms under his and pull him out. He owes his life to
her and we would dearly love to find her family so that Alf can thank them.

If you lived in Bethnal Green in 1943 or earlier and would be able to talk
to some of the survivors about their deceased relatives that you might have
known at the time please get in touch. Tel: 01474 702513

13 April 2008

London Marathon 2008.


Raju Vaidyanathan ran the London Marathon on 13th April brilliantly and
reached our stand at the 22mile point, on the way back, at 3.30pm. After
that he mostly jogged the rest of the way and finished in 5.32 hours. The
last 3 miles proved the most gruelling so we are very grateful to him for
completing the race and send him our congratulations and sincere thanks for
such a wonderful effort.
View more pictures.

I can’t imagine how on earth he could fit in all
the training, let alone completely the race itself, whilst still working. We
are very proud of him and thank him very much, it was a fantastic effort.

Our thanks
also, to Ben who allowed us the use of the facilities at 46 East Smithfield
for our stand and to those of you who made donations in exchange for some
shelter from the rain on the day.

13 April 2008

London Mini-marathon 2008

Jessica Sapiano, aged 13, completed the mini marathon on the same day and
came 1st in her age group, running for Tower Hamlets. It was a great effort
and we are all very proud of Jessica. So a big thank-you to Jessica. She was
sponsored by her friends and family.

Well done and congratulations to both our marathon runners. We are very
grateful for all their hard work and efforts. Please make it worth their
while by sending in your sponsor money soon.

30 May 2008

Liverpool Station tube station collection day, 30th May.

Thank you to everyone who helped at the Liverpool station underground station collection on Friday 30th May, especially Derek, Raju, Lee, Susan, Dee, June, Joan, Kim, Babs, Angela and Roger (hope I haven’t left anybody out). Everyone worked so hard as it was a gruelling day standing up for so long and we had competition from another charity that had collectors working in the mainline station part. But it was all worth it as we collected £311.60 (plus 6 foreign coins), which was much better than expected. So thank you to all the helpers and all the people who gave money in the tube station. It is very much appreciated.

21 June 2008

Harry’s privy good idea.

If you were visiting Exhibition Road in Kensington on Saturday 21st June you would have seen our architect Harry Paticas there.

He has designed a very clever and innovative prototype of a sustainable fabric and earth toilet for Peru. There was so much interest that over a thousand people entered the structure and there was a queue waiting all day. For more information see his website www.paticas.co.uk

8 November 2008

Big thanks to W. English & Son

We are very grateful to W. English & Son, the funeral directors in Bethnal Green Road, (Near the old police station) as their wonderful staff ran a sale for us on Saturday 8th November 2008 and raised £386.87. Their staff all came in on their day off and made tea, coffee, biscuits and mince pies for visitors and committee members. They had loads of things for sale (clothes, bric-a-brac, videos, DVD’s, books, etc) and despite the dreadful weather stood out in the rain entincing people to come in and buy. It was very successful and at the end of the day Terri Fitzpatrick handed us a cheque for £100 as a donation from W. English & Son. This was ON TOP of the money raised that day, so we are very, very grateful to everyone at the funeral directors for their kind help. They provided most of the funerals for the Bethnal Green tube disaster victims back in 1943 and it is good to know that they are still helping to support us now.

Their sale on 15th November 2008 raised a further £425 for us, so a really big-thank you for all they have done for us.

14 November 2008

Alf’s Fund-raising Dance Night

Alf Morris’s fund-raising dance night at the Hornchurch Conservative Club on Friday 14th November was a sell-out and a great success. Alf raised a magnificent £865 and organised it all on his own, with the help of his wife Vera and his family. So well done to Alf. Our thanks go to Hornchurch Conservative Club and the entertainer, Peter James, for giving their services to the charity for the evening. Also Somerfield for helping towards the food costs.

It was such a popular evening that the committee members had to give up their tickets so that others could go, so Alf is now looking around for a bigger venue to organise a similar event, possibly early next summer. So keep watching the website for more details.

19 November 2008

Local London article

An article about the disaster was published on the local Tower Hamlets community website, on 19 November 2008. Just click on the link to view it.

22 November 2008

Christmas Fair Update

Our Christmas Fair at the Tramshed on 22nd November was a bit hectic, but very worthwhile. There was quite a rush of people coming through the doors when we opened up (5 minutes later than expected i’m afraid). The children enjoyed the cuddly toy tombola, lucky dip and face painting as well as all the toys and games for sale. The adults had loads to tempt them with wonderful refreshments, delicious cakes & quiches, bric-a-brac, hand made Christmas cards, paper, gifts, etc.,tombolas and raffles as well as the chance to see the new model and views of the what the Memorial will look like.

So we hope that everyone enjoyed themselves. We raised £834.47 by the time we packed up, which was magnificent, as everything had been donated, so there were nothing to pay out at all. We would like to thank the Tramshed for letting us use the hall, everyone who came along to help on the various stalls, all those who donated goods for sale or to raffle etc., and everyone who braved the icy cold wind on the day to come along and spend money and make it such a successful day. We all really appreciate it. Well done to everyone involved.

29 November 2008

Bigger thanks!

You will also be delighted to know that the sale on Saturday 29th November 2008 by W. English & Son, raised the princely sum of £600.05. Their staff all came in again on their day off and worked so hard for us. We were amazed when we realised at 4pm that they had practically sold everything.

We are absolutely delighted with all their efforts as it means that they have effectively raised over £1400 for us, more than any other local business or company. So we are extremely grateful to them for all their help, which has been invaluable.

They have said that they would be prepared to conduct some more sales in the New Year, so I reckon it is definitely worth recommending them to your friends and relatives if the need arises. They are part of the Dignity group of funeral directors.