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We'll never forget Graham's smile; Parents open hear t on Trade Tower agony.


A BRITISH couple whose son was on board one of the hijacked planes which crashed into the World Trade Centre wept yesterday as they told of their grief.

Charles and Pauline Berkeley, of Shrewsbury, travelled to the city to see where their son, Graham, died, and said: "The sunshine has gone from our lives."

Graham Berkeley, 37, director of e-business with computer firm Compuware, was on board the United Airlines plane which was hijacked and crashed into the second of the towers.

And yesterday the couple cried as they told how they had learned of his death in the city he loved.

"When he got into the plane that morning he was heading to Los Angeles to give a conference there, " said Mrs Berkeley, 64, a retired nursing auxiliary.

"He was on flight 175 that went into the second tower. I wish he had laid over that morning."

Mr Berkeley, who was single, had been living in Boston but was due to move back to New York and had just received his green card, allowing him to work permanently in the United States, in February.

The couple had watched the crash on television, thinking their son was flying to Amsterdam, not Los Angeles.

"He had phoned us the week before and said he was going to Amsterdam, " said Mrs Berkeley.

"We thought at first it was a movie we were watching, then we realised it was for real.

"We felt so sorry for the people on the aeroplane. It was not until 10 o'clock that night that United Airlines rang us and said, 'We are very sorry, your son has been on Flight 175'."

Mr Berkeley said his son was dedicated to his job.

Graham had been trained as a violinist at the Royal College of Music in London after going to school in Shrewsbury, had worked for a year with the BBC Radio Orchestra, and then a German orchestra before becoming involved in the computing industry.

Yesterday his father Charles, 69, a retired power station supervisor, said: "He was always meticulous about his business.

"He was modest. He just told his brother his job was boring.

We didn't realise that he had risen so far. He was always just Graham when he came home."

Mrs Berkeley added: "He just went from strength to strength.

He had just got to the pinnacle of his career."

Their son had survived an earthquake in Los Angeles in the late 1990s when he worked in the city and moved around America with his job. He was most recently based in Boston, from where the hijacked plane left.

But he frequently travelled home and told his parents he planned to be at his firm's British headquarters in Slough soon and would see them then.

Mrs Berkeley said: "He would say to us, 'When you guys can't look after yourself, you have to come to America and I will look after you'. That is never going to happen now."

The couple, who are due to become grandparents for the first time in six months' time, have two other sons, Christopher, a tutor at Shrewsbury College, and Roger, a financial consultant currently on his way back to Britain from working in Saudi Arabia.

Mrs Berkeley, who is waiting for a double hip replacement, said: "He was a fantastic lad.

"Everybody that knew him said he had got charisma. He had a lovely smile. He used to put everybody's mind at ease and try to help. He was always trying to help people."

Mr Berkeley had continued to play the violin as relaxation from his high-powered job, which involved him travelling the world.

"He loved his job and he loved travelling, " he said.

"He lived for travelling. He had been in Australia the previous year and all over. He always used to ring from the airport and say 'Hi guys, I'm going to so-and-so'.

"He never rang this time."

But Mr Berkeley said in spite of all his travel, his heart was in New York and added: "He said he loved New York and America because of the freedom."

The couple said they knew their son could not have survived the inferno which happened when the plane crashed into the tower.

Mr Berkeley said other families were still holding out hope, but they were not.

"We know that Graham could not have survived that blast, " said Mr Berkeley. "It was full of fuel."

They praised the American authorities and Mrs Berkeley said: "It is amazing. They have done so much."

They have also met their son's friends, and been able to take away some of his possessions, including his cherished violin.

"His friends have brought us photos and we have got his possessions, " said Mrs Berkeley.

Her husband added: "We have actually got his passport and his green card. He didn't take them on the flight that day.

"We will always remember his smile. Someone asked what would be his epitaph, and we said, 'He was our lark. He made beautiful music'."

They did not know what happened on the flight but Mr Berkeley said: "I think they would have given them an earful. He wasn't nasty, but he was assertive."

The couple said they wanted to see their son's killers brought to justice, but added they did not want innocent people to become casualties.

Mrs Berkeley said: "I really do hope they catch the people and make them pay for it."

Her husband said: "We don't want revenge on everybody. We want the people behind it caught. It is not Islam at all.

The terrorists have no morals.

Some of our friends are Muslim and they were just as horrified.

"There should be no innocent people like our son affected."


STRICKEN WITH GRIEF: Pauline and Charles Berkeley at their Shrewsbury home remembering their joy-filled son Graham (right)
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Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Sep 23, 2001
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