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As it happened: Warrington bombing 20th anniversary
Updated 3:38pm Saturday 16th March 2013 in News
This live event has finished
- Public service took place in Bridge Street
- Politicians and victims' families speak at VIP opening ceremony at Pyramid
- A minute's silence held at 12.27pm to remember the victims
Ron Riley was one of many on Bridge street trying to help the injured in 1993.
He lay with Bronwen Vickers, who died around a year after the bombing, trying to stem the flow of blood from wounds caused by the explosion.
He said: "I can remember it like it was yesterday. I came running out of the Golden Square when the bomb came off and saw Bronwen.
"I stayed with her until the ambulance came with my hand on her artery. We were trying to make a joke of it.
"I said you've saved me a fiver because I'd normally have had three pints in the pub by now.
"She asked me to make her a rolled up cigarette and I said I can't because my hand is on your leg.'
Mr Riley said the atrocity that day was caused by 'mindless idiots' but he
praised how 20 years on the town has 'come together'.
The Rev Stephen Kingsnorth summed up the service.
"I was contented with the way the service went," he said.
"The weather was kind to us and the attendees were very supportive.
"It got the two emotions of pain in commemoration and the joy of celebration balanced."
20 years since the bombing of my home town Warrington - I wish the families of Jonathan Ball and Tim Parry closure and that peace continues.— @nick_dy3r 16 March 2013
RT @EMSJohn999: @hayleytuttsmith although I was only 7 at the time, I remember the day clearly. Warrington has done us proud today, a true community spirit— @hayleytuttsmith 16 March 2013
1:23pm Sat 16 Mar 13
My heart goes out to both families today.
Their strength and dignity is inspirational.
They are a credit to Warrington.
Forever young,Never forgotten x
Floral tributes on Bridge Street.
Floral tributes in Bridge Street
Another picture of the crowds in Bridge Street today.
Bridge Street begins to empty but there is more happening back at the Pyramid this afternoon.
Seeing the town come together as it has today for the bombing memorial service makes me proud to live in Warrington— @hayleytuttsmith 16 March 2013
Ireland minister Mike Penning: "It has been a pleasure to meet the Parrys today.
"This is their day."
There is a shared blessing from the town's religious leaders before the service ends and the stage empties.
A picture of grey skies on Bridge Street as the balloons are released.
There are more than 1,000 people in Bridge Street #Warrington now. School children have started to sing Love Can Build A Bridge.— @warringtonnews 16 March 2013
Colin Parry thanks the people who helped to create a peace foundation— @wgtonnicpriest 16 March 2013
Warrington is now known internationally as a place of peace and reconciliation.
The artist who created the River of Life memorial, Stephen Broadbent, says it was intended to 'heal a broken street'.
Colin Parry pays tribute to the parents of Johnathan Ball, Wilf and Marie Ball, and Warrington Borough Council - especially deputy leader Clr Mike Hannon, the late Mike Sanders and John Gartside, who was council leader at the time of the bombings in 1993.
He adds that Wendy had a dream of building a dedicated peace centre.
"This town has made a real and unique difference," he said.
He hopes Tim and Johnathan are looking down now and saying well done Warrington.
There is warm applause.
Colin Parry is now speaking and paid tribute to his handsome boy Tim who died in his arms.
"The men who planted their devices had to know the victims would be men, women and children out shopping.
"The men who murdered them will never be caught. It did nothing for their cause but did so much for peace."
The @warringtonnews team covered the bombings with great sensitivity & compassion in 1993. They continue to do so 20 years on— @M_Corbett 16 March 2013
Lots of emotion and the release of 20 doves to start the minute's silence at 12.27pm.
There is a rainbow of 20 balloons - one for each year since the bombing.
Wendy Parry, mum of bombing victim Tim, releases doves with her six-year-old granddaughter Evie.
Balloons are released by the Ball family.
Those involved in making the River of Life memorial are now doing a reading.
They were children at the time of the IRA attack in 1993, but are now adults.
The Mayor of Lisburn in Northern Ireland says: "This event shows our commitment to peace."
Ireland Minister Mike Penning: "As a father I hope I could have reacted in the same way.
"Peace is happening in Northern Ireland cos of people like families here. There is work to do but we will get there."
Minister of State for Northern Ireland Mike Penning says he hopes he could have acted with such dignity as a father— @wgtonnicpriest 16 March 2013
Warrington Borough Council leader Terry O'Neill: "What happened is part of our DNA. It has changed history.
"We took the path of hope and not despair."
Watch manager Graham Davis from Warrington Fire Station is with his crew on
Bridge Street to represent the fire service and crews who dealt with the
He was on duty for both the gasworks bombing and was on a late shift on
Saturday, March 20, 1993.
He said: "We covered up the street with sheets that night.
"Even then hours afterwards it was still chaotic. Since then the Peace Centre has been built and the bombing had a major impact on the peace process.
"We have good links with the centre and something good has come out of it."
Warrington Mayor Clr Steve Wright is now addressing the crowds.
He says: "We will never forget what happened but that should not deter us from looking to the future."
The Rev Stephen Kingsnorth: "The community has declared itself a family.
"We are thankful for the journey travelled by so many."
John Major, Prime Minister at the time of the IRA attack in Warrington, is overseas so unable to attend today's memorial service.
However he has sent a message apologising for not being there and says his thoughts are with all the people who suffered.
Clr Mike Hannon: "Warrington has done so much. There are so many projects to celebrate.
"We must not forget the path to peace. Today is the start of the next beginning."
Clr Mike Hannon remembers how eerie Bridge Street felt— @wgtonnicpriest 16 March 2013
Melanie McCoy, aged 55, from Callands, is at the service today.
She said: "We come to Warrington every Saturday but we knew about this event and wanted to come and pay our respects.
"We had just got home from Warrington town centre on the day of the bombing.
"The bombing is what the town is known for now but it isn't a very nice thing to
be known for.
"Every Mother's Day you remember it. But we have played a big role in the peace process.
"I don't think anything would have happened to that unless this had happened."
Please can everyone observe a one minute silence at 1227 in memory of the Warrington Bombing. RT!— @Dan1876 16 March 2013
The service to mark the 20th anniversary of the IRA bomb attack is under way with Warrington Male Voice Choir starting the proceedings.
The song is Across the Bridge of Hope.
Scene in Bridge Street five minutes before service is due to start http://t.co/AWPk5iwNDA— @wgtonnicpriest 16 March 2013
More than 500 people now gathered on Bridge Street, with more coming all the time.
Speaking on Bridge Street, council leader Clr Terry O'Neill says he feels so much pride in the town.
Crowds are continuing to build despite the rain.
Members of the public gather in the rain ready for the service at 12pm.
Fifteen minutes before the main public service starts and it is starting to rain.
The Rev Stephen Kingsnorth will lead the service.
He says he always gets nervous before speaking at big events, but the sermon he gave 20 years ago was the one he is most proud of.
Another of Johnathan Ball's relatives, aunt Pauline Owen, thanked staff at the Pyramid for an exhibition set up to commemorate the events of March 29 1993.
She said: "The exhibition is really good. There are pictures there of Marie (Johnathan's mum). It brings it all back."
Kath Van Dusen, aunt of bomb victim Johnathan Ball, tells Guardian reporter Matthew Hobbs: "We are taking part in the procession and will be on the stage in Bridge Street.
"We want to pay our respects to Johnathan, we're here for him. I didn't expect this many people to be here already."
Kath Van Dusen,Johnathan Ball's aunty, told me 'We're in the procession.We want to pay our respects to Johnathan,we're here for him'— @MBHReporter 16 March 2013
Clr Sheila Woodyatt said this weeks Warrington Guardian coverage of the bombing anniversary made her weep— @wgtonnicpriest 16 March 2013
The media talking to council leader Clr Terry O'Neill on Bridge Street
Thinking of 2 special boys and families today. #20yearanniversery #peacecentre #warringtonbombing— @Warrcares4tom 16 March 2013
Mayor of Warrington Clr Steve Wright: "It just doesn't seem so long ago but we are moving on.
"We need to step back and reflect and gather our thoughts on that day and think
about those who lost their lives and were hurt on that day.
"There are lots of things to remind us but a lot of positive things have emerged
from that tragedy."
No other charity doing the unique work of the peace centre Warrington needs to be very proud of it says Colin Parry— @wgtonnicpriest 16 March 2013
Warrington Borough Council's leader Clr Terry O'Neill: "The Peace Centre is changing the lives of young people and the lives of the world."
Barbara Cullinane, representing the Irish Government at the event today, said:
"I think the events in Warrington had a huge impact in Ireland.
"I'm here to represent the Irish people and government.
"There is a huge bond between the community in Warrington and the families and
the Irish people.
"The country was impressed by the dignity shown by the people of the town."
The opening ceremony has now finished. Guests will be taken by bus to the next part of the commemoration on Bridge Street, which starts at 12pm.
Mike Hall, MP for Warrington South at the time of the bombing in 1993, recalled a 'dark day for the town'.
Speaking at today's opening ceremony, said: "There are lots of reasons for coming here today - it's the 20th anniversary for one of the most tragic events in Warrington's history.
"I was in this building that day. It was absolutely chaotic in the town.
"Rumours came through that a bomb had gone off in Bridge Street. Today brings back very traumatic memories for me, particularly walking around Bridge Street in the aftermath of the bomb. Then the news came through that Johnathan had been killed.
"It was a dark day for this town."
He also parid tribute to the town's reaction to the IRA attack.
"The emergency services did an amazing job that day. Colin and Wendy Parry did an amazing part in the peace process and are one of the reasons there has been an enduring peace.
"The friendships that came out of the bomb is the reason it's important to be here today."
The family of Johnathan Ball, who was three when he was killed in the attacks, say his brother will release doves as part of the ceremony later.
At the opening ceremony for VIP guests at the Pyramid, Colin Parry pays tribute to the 'fantastic work of the Peace Centre' and adds: "We're here today to celebrate Warrington becoming strong after the tragedy."
He also says the Peace Centre now has 'very strong links' with Ireland following all work done to repair relations after the IRA attack in 1993.
And he said the Parry family has had 'a cross to bear' since Tim's murder.
The VIP opening ceremony has started at the Pyramid.
Doug Hoyle was MP at the time of the IRA bomb attack and was at a meeting at the Parr Hall which John Prescott was speaking at.
He went to Bridge Street and saw the devastation.
"It was a terrible thing and I still don't understand it," he said today.
"But Warrington has come together in a way we can be proud of. And Warrington cannot say enough praise for the Parrys and the Peace Centre."
In the service today from 12pm there will be speeches by Mike Penning, Minister of State for Northern Ireland and the Mayor of Lisburn, as well as a talk from Stephen Broadbent, designer of the river of life memorial.
There will be a balloon release and a dove release, while students from Sankey High School and Barrow Hall Primary School will sing Love Can Build A Bridge.