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Candles in the wind at vigil for George; Tears flow as city gathers to remember famous son.

Byline: David Charters

THE bitter easterly wind cutting across the city was too strong for the candles and they flickered and died in thousands of hands, which had been curled like shields.

But, in the hearts of those people, the flame will always be there for George Harrison.

They had gathered on the sweeping plateau of St George' Hall, to say goodbye to the guitarist, whose music spoke of faith and love and the hope that after every long winter there would be the sun, again.

This was Liverpool, native city of the 58-year-old Beatle who died last Thursday.

And when the Lord Mayor, Gerry Scott, called for a minute's silence it was observed with reverence and affection for the man who had given others so much pleasure.

All that could be heard was a hum from the motors in the TV vans, relaying the scenes across the world.

Then, from the big speakers, sounded the unmistakeable guitar opening to My Sweet Lord. People began clapping, at first just a few but the mood spread and everyone joined in.

There were pensioners in head scarves and children on their fathers' shoulders. There were some tears, too, because it was a sombre moment for the city. Yet, it was not a morbid occasion.

George had expressed his trust in God many times during his illness.

Now he was moving on to another world.

So this Liverpool crowd, of 2,500, raised their arms to George, the quiet one, in thanks for what had been and to wish him well in the future. Officiating over the ceremony was Billy Butler, the Radio Merseyside presenter, who knew the boys in their Cavern days.

Just before the silence, he introduced, Melissa Burgess, 10, Kieran Hughes, 11, Charlotte Callister, 10, and Jennifer Rannard, 11, who sang My Sweet Lord, accompanied on the keyboard by Kim Davies, their music teacher at Dovedale Primary School, which George attended when the family lived in Wavertree.

The children also planted an English oak tree in the peace garden behind St George' Hall, just a few yards from another one is growing in memory of John Lennon. It could grow to 80 feet and live for hundreds of years.

Kieron said that his mum Judith "used to love George" and bought all his records. She had asked him to say a special prayer to him from her at the school assembly.

"I said that I hope George is happy in Heaven, "said Kieron.

Although the wind was keen, city council workers carried boxes with 5,000 candles to the scene. And the people kept coming right up to the start of the silence.

Afterwards, most of them filed past the mighty pillars to sign books of condolence in the grand hall.

They were laid on tables before the stage on which there was a single candle and a photograph of the young George, taken by the German photographer, Astrid Kircherr, who became the girlfriend of Stuart Sutcliffe, another Beatle who died too young.

A man in a fawn coat, who knew them all, sat with a pen in his hand.

"Dear George, All You Need Is Love, " he wrote. It was Allan Williams, first manager of the Beatles.

And When My Guitar Gently Weeps was playing in the hall.

Among those remembering George last night was distinguished sculptor Tom Murphy, whose hands have already given shape and and permanence on earth to some of Liverpool's great men, including Bill Shankly, Dixie Dean, and John Lennon.

CAPTION(S):

VIGIL: Crowds gather for last night's St George's Hall tribute to George Harrison in Liverpool
COPYRIGHT 2001 MGN Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Dec 4, 2001
Words:602
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