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Memorial to anti-missile camp victim; PEACE: Greenham Common.

Byline: CERI JONES

A PEACE protester killed at a nuclear missile base will have a garden opened in her memory this autumn.

Helen Thomas died at the US air force base at Greenham Common 13 years ago this week when she was struck by a police horse box.

Although the missiles have long departed and the peace camp has now gone, many of the women who protested outside its main gate for 19 years want a permanent reminder of their campaign.

In October a special ceremony is to be held to open the pounds 80,000 commemorative and historic site at the Berkshire base, which is now an enterprise park.

Part of the site will include a garden dedicated to the 22-year-old peace campaigner from Newcastle Emlyn, Carmarthenshire.

``It's important that the story of Greenham Common is told because it shows that women or anyone can dig in their heels and make a difference,'' said veteran campaigner Jean Hutchinson from Carmarthenshire, who spent almost 18 years at the camp.

``By our actions, by protesting, by going to court and prison, we made it impossible for cruise missiles to stay on the base.

``There was real history being made and we find it important to have a commemorative site.''

The peace camp was established 21 years ago, following a march from Wales to Greenham Common, in protest over cruise missiles being stored there.

Ms Thomas, who had been working for Cardiff Women's Aid, joined the peace camp just two months before she died.

Her family and fellow protesters believe the full truth about her death has yet to be revealed.

At an inquest, which recorded a verdict of accidental death, police said she deliberately stepped out into the road, while onlookers claimed the truck deliberately swerved towards her.

Her parents Janet and John Thomas, who run an electrical shop in Newcastle Emlyn, sought a judicial review of the verdict.

Although the coroner was criticised, a new inquest was rejected.

``Yesterday was very difficult as it was the anniversary of Helen's death. It's not something you ever forget or recover from,'' said Jean Hutchinson.

Ann Pettitt from Carmarthen, who first came up with the idea of a march to the US base, said, ``I'm very glad that the site will be open to the public. It's on beautiful common ground with wonderful wildlife and ecology, which we used to enjoy while we were there.'' However, she added, ``I don't have time to busy myself with Greeenham memorabilia. I'm much too concerned about what is going on today.''

Centrepiece from Welsh quarries

THE Greenham commemorative site, will have as its theme the traditional elements of fire, air, earth and water. Its centrepiece will be seven standing stones from Welsh quarries, which will surround a sculpture in the shape of an eternal flame by Ammanford artist, Michael Marriott.

Shortly after Helen's death the peace camp women created a small natural garden in her memory set out in her favourite colours of yellow and purple. This will now be incorporated into the commemorative site.

As well as additional plantings, they have been offered a white quartz stone by Newcastle Emlyn farmer, Mel Jones, to put on the garden.

The site has already been planned and land marked out and the stones and sculptures will be put in place ready for the October opening.

First campaigners still have to raise pounds 30,000 of the pounds 80,000 project.

CAPTION(S):

NO CRUISE: The peace protesters pictured at Greenham Common; NO PEACE: A peace campaigner is dragged from the entrance of Greenham Common air base as police move in to clear the protest camp; REMEMBERED: Helen Thomas
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Aug 9, 2002
Words:611
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