I LOVE Community Spirit, Generosity and Friendship – Cheadle Hulme & Bramhall Standing Shoulder to Shoulder with Manchester
To hear of the vile terrorist attack so close to home was horrible. To hear of so many innocent people – and even young children – targeted, killed and hurt while enjoying what should have been a lovely night out was devastating. Some of us were there. Many of us know someone who was there. Tragically, some of us lost someone. ALL of us want to stand shoulder to shoulder with those affected, to help in some way, however small. Sometimes all we have is a little gesture of solidarity – but it comes straight from the heart.
Around 2pm on Tuesday 23 May, local girl Annaliese emailed I Love Cheadle Hulme, wanting to do something, to say something, succinctly capturing how we all felt:
“I am 18 and have grown up in Cheadle Hulme. I feel so guilty for sitting here and being safe, the most outrageous feeling that I’m sure many residents of Cheadle Hulme are feeling at the moment. Can I suggest we organise a ‘light up Oak Meadow park’ where by everyone gathers this evening at 8pm and lights a candle in honour of the victims tragically affected by the most horrific incident last night?
I really hope that we can team together to create an incredible outcome for the people of this lovely area.
Let me know and I can help spread the word!”
An afternoon’s worth of phone calls and emails later, we had volunteers from churches and several councillors wanting to join us – and it became apparent very quickly that hundreds of people in Cheadle Hulme and Bramhall felt the same. We would very much like to thank the representatives from Cheadle Hulme Methodist Church, All Saints Parish Church, Fords Lane Church and Bramhall Methodist Church as well as local Councillors John Pantall, Suzanne Wyatt, June Somekh and Stephen Robinson, representing MP Mary Robinson.
Candlelit vigils are not something we’ve organised before – and we hope we won’t need to again – but it was truly an honour to see so many people come to pay their respects and make a statement of strength and friendship in the face of fear.
Bramhall residents gathered first, at 6pm in Bramhall Village Square, and began lighting candles and tealights. Pastor Jonathan Dawson of Fords Lane Church led the vigil with words and prayer, followed by an immaculately observed minute’s silence. Reverend Philip Berry of Bramhall Methodist Church then led us in a prayer. The Benja Fold Brownies also joined us to light their candles and pay tribute to those affected. Without prompting, soon donations started to flood in for the Red Cross Manchester fund. Together, Bramhall and Cheadle Hulme raised over £400 in just an hour or so.
Cheadle Hulme’s Oak Meadow was set for our vigil at 8pm, and by 8.15, people were still pouring into the park. Kate introduced Reverend Janet Bacon of All Saints Parish Church who shared a few words before leading a prayer and a minute’s silence. Reverend Philip Peacock of Cheadle Hulme Methodist Church had a prior commitment so sent a statement and prayer with Margaret Parker. People were visibly moved, and hearts broke for the girls whose friend Gina was one of the first confirmed victims. Beth and Rachel from the Methodist church had brought leaf-shaped paper tags and pencils, and soon emotional and heartfelt tributes fluttered from the large oak tree under which the candles flickered – and were still flickering the morning after.
A true symbol of hope and light in the darkness.
There’s a short film on Youtube we created to show the feeling that evening.
The vigils are still in the villages and growing every day with more flowers, candles and messages please feel free to to go down and add your tribute.