have just returned home from attending the memorable service at the
barracks site of the atrocity in 1989 where bereaved families again
came together to remember loved ones. Musicians in uniform from the
Portsmouth Band accompanied the service that once again was taken
by the sister of Musician Bob Simmonds who died in the bombing. BBC
TV and Radio covered this morning's activity and around 150 former
colleagues and friends had travelled, some from abroad, to be present.
I was among many others privileged to lay wreaths in memory of those
whose lives were cut short twenty-five years ago.
This morning has been a time of great togetherness with over-riding
pride in having been part of the RMBS. You would have found the occasion
very moving. Having, as a result of being at the heart of things In
1989, undergone a course in Bereavement Councelling with CRUSE I have
been able to accept your letter posted today on Dickie Valentine's
website with a certain understanding rather than an instinctive anger.
Many, many people acted as you were able to after the bombing and
managed to assuage their need to do something to help in a desperate
situation. The Memorial Bandstand on Walmer Green is testament to
that for it is still a place of special interest with concerts given
every Sunday throughout the summer for which no charge is made. A
valiant team ensures that this carries on by giving up every summer
Sunday afternoon to its cause. They do so without expectation of reward
or, indeed, recognition. They are applying themselves as you did but,
in their case, for longer.
Grief affects us all in differing ways and I truly believe that your
personal grief after so long has manifested itself in a degree of
anger that is present in your letter today. I sincerely hope that
you can find it within yourself to accept that you are among many
who suffer particularly at this time in the year. I was fortunate
this morning to share real tears at a moving ceremony. You didn't
have that privilege and have instead allowed anger to well up. Do,
please, let yourself accept that twenty-five years on we must all
stop looking for thanks for what we do, or have done. Instead let
us show gratitude for the fact that we live on to enjoy family life
when our colleagues and friends, who also fully deserved to do so,
but for whom there was to be no opportunity.
Graham asked me to post this letter directly to our web pages.