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School anger at park plan; ABERFAN MEMORIAL.

PLANS to demolish a playground built to remember the victims of the Aberfan disaster have outraged staff and pupils at a Warwickshire school which has its own memorial to those killed in the tragedy.

The tragic accident at the Welsh mining village in 1966, which claimed 116 young lives, prompted the people of Coventry and Warwickshire to raise money for a play area in Merthyr Vale.

Now - as the Evening Telegraph revealed on Monday - builders want to put new homes on the site.

A campaign against the proposal is growing in south wales and this area.

Today, the custodians of a small memorial near Nuneaton backed the campaign to save Coventry Park.

The memorial is in the churchyard of St Lawrence's Church, Church End, Ansley.

The garden is maintained by children from The Old School, which caters for children who have special educational needs because they have experienced severe social and emotional difficulties in their lives.

And the children would be devastated to see their memorial, planted shortly after the tragedy when the school was Ansley C of E Village School, desecrated in a similar way.

A plaque at the memorial garden, which has a cherry tree as its centrepoint, reads: "In memory of the children of Aberfan Village School, from the infants of Ansley C of E Village School, October 21st 1966."

Replanting is about to begin on the garden, with plans already drawn- out by pupils.

Head teacher Mike Ross said: "We are so shocked at these plans. We would be absolutely furious if something like that were to happen here.

"Children from this school helped to produce that memorial and they all know why we maintain it now.

"It has not been done yet this year but a group of kids have already done the planting plan."

One of the children who has worked on the plan and will be helping to work on the garden of remembrance is Charlene Parkinson, 12.

She said: "I like working on the garden and I am looking forward to re- planting it. I would not be happy if they tried to dig it up and get rid of it."

Your views

NEWS that the Coventry Playground could be bulldozed has outraged many readers.

Here is a selection of views as received by text, e-mail, letter and from visitors to our website at www.iccoventry.co.uk

If you want to make your view known, then write to The Letters Editor, Aberfan Views, Coventry Evening Telegraph, Corporation St, Coventry CV1 1FP, e-mail letters@ coventry-telegraph.co.uk, text on 07800 140 064 or visit our website at the above address.

I HAD an overnight stay in Aberfan in 1972 and there was an eerie dullness and a feeling of great loss then. Please let the park stay, so the lost generation's memory can live on.

Dave Henson, Nuneaton

I WAS horrified to read the lead story about the proposed development in Merthyr Vale.

I remember graphically as an 11-year-old schoolboy at Blue Coat School in Terry Road being called in to the hall where we said prayers for so many children who were not much younger than ourselves and looking at the pictures of the devastation on the news and in the newspapers when I got home.

My Son Callum who is 12 asked me about the headline in your paper and when I explained what may happen he said "that can't possibly happen could it Dad ?"

I hope and pray that the proposal is rejected and thank the Coventry Evening Telegraph for bringing it to our notice.

Ian Hodge, Stanway Road, Earlsdon.

I CAN'T get over the fact that someone even thought of demolishing it, but to go ahead and send in the plans is an extremely sick joke, it's the sort of decision I'd expect from a money grabbing, fat cat bunch of eejits, these people must be dead inside! To toy with people's emotions like that is depraved.

Martin Nicholson

I AM absolutely disgusted at the attitude of the Council in regards to the memorial of the children, parents and teachers of the school that was desolated by the spillage. The park should be kept as a memorial. I remember that day very well.

Mr P S Hartland, Sandy Lane, Radford

US people of Coventry should not let this happen. We should all stand firmly together on this matter and have a collection to refurnish it. Let's do it Coventry.

Ian

THE memorial to children who perished in the Aberfan disaster must be retained forever. It must be protected by a legal challenge and other positive methods to stop this madness.

Ian Harris, Tulliver Street, Radford

TO even consider destroying the Aberfan memorial playground is abhorrent. The memorials were created as a LASTING memory to the children and adults. They MUST stay as such. A local councillor is quoted as saying that the playground is getting into a state of disrepair. The local council surely in a unique case such as this has a duty to maintain the memorials in pristine condition.

John Bassinder, Chace Avenue, Willenhall

I CAN remember like yesterday. I saw big strong men who were miners at Binley pit who sobbed their hearts out at this terrible tragedy. I was 17 at the time and my friends and I gave to collections at the Binley Club. We must not let Coventry Park be destroyed. It is a memorial to 116 children.

Angela Holden, a Coventry Kid.

I WAS seven at the time of the disaster. I remember how my mother and neighbours felt, and how they watched for news of more children being found. I find it disgusting that the memorial park should be built on. I can only imagine that some greed is at the bottom of this.

Lynda Stretton, High Street, Hancock, USA

MEMORIALS are simply that! They are to keep a memory alive. It is very wrong to tear down a place where children and families share a memory. It appears it is for the power and financial gain of those not struck by this tragedy. It will be another tragedy to tear down this memorial... and I don't know too many people who would want to buy and live in a bungalow knowing it took the place of a children's memorial garden. Shame!

Tina Gunter, Summer Ridge Drive, Summerville, SC USA

If there is anything the public can do to help, count me in. Those lives that were lost should be remembered and respected.

Ray Riley, Hallam Road, Coventry

THIS message comes from a Coventry Kid. I think it's disgusting that anyone should even think of destroying the Aberfan playground I remember the tragedy as if it was yesterday. I totally agree with Frank Allen, you have my support. God bless.

David Charley, Ontario, Canada

CAPTION(S):

DN92200_1 SHOCKED AT PLAN: Charlene Parkinson is looking forward to replanting the Warwickshire school's Aberfan memorial garden. Picture:ROBIN BIDGOOD; THREAT: The Coventry Park playground in Merthyr Vale
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Jul 14, 2004
Words:1165
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