Stairway to Heaven Memorial

Sunday, 18 December 2016

2016 NEWS





 The conicals have now been completed in the roof of the memorial and the names are being carved now. So, good progress is being made on the teak side. Our teak page has a lot of photos  so have a look. However, we’ve had a bit of a setback as our Main Contractor has gone into Administration, so we are now looking for a new one to manage the installation side of the memorial project. This may delay matters slightly, but we are doing all we can to minimise this.

Put the date in your diary for next year’s Memorial Service. It will be Sunday 5th March at St. John on Bethnal Green Church at 2pm as usual.

We’ve had a great £900 donation from The Foresters Charity Stewards UK Trust for one of the conicals and that just leaves us 2 conicals yet to find sponsors for. We have released them as their relatives have not taken them up.

Our last fund-raising event of the year was the guided walk in Whitechapel on 4th December. Our guide managed to link Dick Turpin, Jack the Ripper, the Cable Street Siege, Lenin, Stalin, the Bolsheviks, Edward VII, the Krays, the Elephant Man, the Whitechapel Bell Foundry and lots of other murders, in the short space of the Whitechapel Road. It was really fascinating.  Our thanks to the guide, historian Edward Stow, and The Whitechapel Society. They raised a magnificent £185 for us, so well done to them and thanks to everyone that joined us on such a freezing cold day

If you are on facebook please share our facebook page so we can spread the news at  https://www.facebook.com/bethnalgreenmemorial/  

I’ll have more information on the memorial progress next month, but in the meantime I’d like to thank you all so much for your help, donations and support, particularly with the frustrating delays that we have experience this year. It means a lot to us to have your continued interest and support. May we wish you all the joy and happiness of this festive season and a very happy and healthy 2017 when we will have the memorial completed, hopefully before the summer.

Sandra (Hon. Sec/Trustee) 18/12/16
 

Don't forget that the schools resource pack can now be downloaded at www.bgmemorial.org.uk.

Work has started on the final part of the Memorial. We spent an exciting day at the joinery workshop watching the teak being made ready. Now we have photos of the conicals being cut. They will be sited in the roof to allow sunlight to shine through onto the paving below. There will be 173 of them to represent each of the victims. Many of the families, friends, schools and lovely individuals and companies have sponsored the conicals. We have 2 left to be sponsored. If anyone is interested in sponsoring them just send an email to the address on the opening page of the website. Each conical will take one hour and 22 minutes to produce. It is such a precise and intricate process. We'll give you further updates when we have them.

At long last we have been give the legal agreement by Tower Hamlets Council to add the final part of the Memorial. Now we have given the go-ahead for the work to start to build the 'stairway' - the final part that will go on top of the existing plinth. The work is likely to take 4 months to complete so we are not expecting it to be in place and finished before February 2017. However, as the work progresses I should have a better idea on timings and will obvioulsy keep you updated on the progress. At least we are on the downward stretch at last. (Sandra, Hon. Secretary)
 
We had such fun in Victoria Park last Sunday afternoon. The Friends of Victoria Park kindly organised their last event for the season at the bandstand so we could collect donations. They also erected a gazebo with a stall to sell our goods and give out leaflets. The East London Late Starters band started the afternoon off in Victoria Park and then the Broken Swing Band continued entertaining us. Their singer was brilliant. The crowds gradually built up  and picnickers arrived and spread out around the Bandstand area. Then people started dancing to the music and it was a really fun afternoon. At first it was quite cool and very windy and it was difficult to keep the items on our stall, but then the wind died down, the sun shone and lots of people were kind enough to enquire about our Memorial and the Bethnal Green disaster, take leaflets, buy key rings and put donations in our buckets. We are extremely grateful to Richard Desmond of the FoVP and all the players and singers in the bands that entertained us all afternoon. And a big thank-you to everyone who put donations in our buckets and tin. We collected £340. As always, there were costs as we do not give anyone any payments or expenses from the charity. We all pay our own expenses out of our own pockets to ensure that all the donations are used towards building the last part of the Bethnal Green Memorial. So, a huge thank-you to all our helpers, Derek, Lee, Maria, Mike, Tracey, Sandra and Jodie. They were a great help, particularly as i had to rest my foot some of the time as i had recently had an operation on it.

We have been trying to move the project forward to enable us to complete the memorial and add the final 'stairway' on top. Unfortunately, with elections, holidays and various other distractions it has not been possible to agree the legal documents with Tower Hamlets Council. We hope this can be resolved as soon as possible as it is very frustrating for all of us trying to finish the memorial quickly. We will obviously keep you updated as soon as this has been resolved. Donations towards the final part of the project are always welcome. Please get in touch for more details.


Vinarius, the wine shop in Roman Road Market, 536 Roman Road, kindly organised a fund-raising event for us in May and raised £340. So, a huge thank-you to them and all their customers that took part for their generosity. Go along and buy some of their wine and say hello to their lovely staff.

The East London Garden Society planted all the lovely daffodils that brightened up our memorial garden in the spring. They plan to raise funds to maintain our memorial garden and other gardens in Bethnal Green. They are doing this through crowdfunding. If you would like to contribute please go to www.spacehive.com/BethnalGreenApeal.

There are just a few conicals left to sponsor, so if you have not sponsored one in memory of your loved one please get in touch as soon as possible. For just £200 you will have your name or business listed at the side of one of the victims on our website list. This list will also be stored at the Bishopsgate Institute and Tower Hamlets archives for posterity once the project has been completed.

The Memorial Service to mark the 73rd anniversary of the Bethnal Green tube shelter disaster took place on Sunday 6th March at 2pm at St. John's Church (next to Bethnal Green underground station). Our wonderful patrons, TV's DIY expert Tommy Walsh and Radio Historian Harry Harris were there, as always, plus lots of lovely Pearly Kings and Queens. After the Service we paraded across the road to lay flowers and wreaths on the memorial followed by a short blessing. Then everyone was invited to return to the church where refreshments were available plus an exhibition about the disaster.. 

There have been a few books published recently which include details about the disaster. Joyce Hampton  has produced 'Looking Back - A Century of Life in Bethnal Green' which makes a super present for any occasion. It details the history of the East London area in a very readable way, with lots of information about individual streets and families. It is a fascinating read for anyone that grew up or lived in Bethnal Green. And of course it includes details about the disaster. This can be purchased from the author on:  hampton.joyce14@yahoo.com or purchased through Amazon. 

Kate Thompson's paperback 'The Secret of the Singer Girls' is available from Amazon and is a great holiday read. The follow-up prequel is called 'The Secrets of the Sewing Bee'  and may still be available from bookshops for £6.99.

On Thursday 3rd March - the actual anniversary of the disaster - we did a charity collection at Bethnal Green tube station. Thanks to all our helpers and the generous local public we raised £244.96 as we had to cut short the collection due to unforseen circumstances.
      
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Our first news for 2016 is that the teak finally arrived in the UK on 31st December and is now being tested to check all the joints etc are OK.  Once it has been passed by the experts then work can begin on carving the surnames in large letters all the way round the sides, putting in the framework, adding the roof and the angled conicals (that will allow the sunlight to shine through). This will all take quite a long time to complete, but we will keep you informed about the progress from time to time and hopefully have full details at the Memorial Service on 6th March at St. John on Bethnal Green Church (next to BG tube station) at 2pm. In the meantime photos of the teak being unloaded in the UK can be seen on the opening page of this website. 


Sandra (Hon. Secretary). Email: info@stairwaytoheavenmemorial.org
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The good news to end the year is that the teak is on its way!!! At long last the delays during the year have been sorted out and the teak is on a ship and should land in the UK at the end of December.

This teak will be used to produce the final part of the Bethnal Green Memorial - the 'stairway'. It will then be down to the UK manufacturers to check it, carve the surnames in large letters all around the sides, and produce the roof that will have the 173 conicals in the top that will allow sunlight to shine through onto the paving below. These will represent the victims of the disaster.

The raffle of signed Arsenal football club memorabilia took place on 19th December. The 4 winners have now been advised and we thank everyone that took part as it raised £625. We are delighted with this final fund-raising event for 2015. 

If everyone that has promised us donations sends in their money in January that will leave us just under £3000 left to raise to complete the work on the top part of the memorial. We will keep you informed about this during 2016.
 
 Thanks very much to everyone that has supported us this year and for all your donations. It has kept us going during the frustrating delays with the teak. However, we now see light at the end of the tunnel at last and look forward to seeing lots of you at the official unveiling ceremony in 2016. We will keep you informed about the date of that when we have it.
Best wishes from everyone on the STH Memorial committee for a happy and healthy 2016.
from Sandra (Hon. secretary)
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We have had a bit of a break during the summer to give our committee members a rest. We have all been fund-raising and working very hard to raise all the money we need for 8 years and are now hoping that enough people will sponsor the conicals that go in the roof of the memorial to help us complete our project on time. There are still conicals on the list (that appears here on our website) for people or businesses to sponsor.  You don't have to have any connection to the disaster. For £200 you will have your name or business website listed at the side of one of the victims. This list will not only appear on our website but will eventually be uploaded onto our facebook pages, stored at the Bishopsgate Institute and Tower Hamlets archives for posterity. If you would like more information please get in touch. Details appear on our donations page or you can email the charity office on info@stairwaytoheavenmemorial.org. 


Over the last few months there has been a number of fund-raising events organised for us: 
  • In June £1,350 was raised on the Ben Nevis Challenge by Brian Wood MC, Matt Ryan, Russell Smith and Monty Bath. Our thanks go to these guys for completing a gruelling challenge in dreadful weather 
  • The Genesis Cinema in Stepney screened Somi De Souza's wonderful film "I Remember, I Remember" which included interviews with some of our survivors.
  • Julian Apperley and The Hare pub in Cambridge Heath Road (close to the start of Mare Street) continues to raise money for us with the collecting tins on his bar. The last one produced £40.49 but he has been raising funds for us over the years totally at least £2000. He and his customers are brilliant to continue to support us. Pop along there sometime to enjoy some Real Ales.
  • The Askew Road Libary in West London also continues to raise funds for us. They raised £50 at their VE Day celebrations and we thank them and their wonderful visitors. 
  • Various talks around London and Essex have continued to raise more money. When talks are given by our Secretary Sandra she asks for a donation to the funds rather than a payment for her. The audience also usually contribute by putting donations in our collection tin too.  
  • Charity Flowers give us a donation every time somebody orders flowers through them. There are no delivery charges and the flowers are very fresh and long-lasting but you have to nominate our charity (Stairway to Heaven Memorial) for us to receive a donation.  This is only operating until February 2016 and then it will probably be closed.
  • Our guided walk 'All Change in the City' raised £30 in May. 

 Prior to this these were our earlier events:

Our recent station collections went well with £385.60 raised at Liverpool Street, thanks to the wonderful Pearly Kings & Queens who helped us for a large part of the day, and £304.97 at Stratford Station. Our thanks to all the helpers who gave their time freely, as always. There are no plans for any more station collections for a while.


Raju Vaidyanathan completed the marathon, despite his poor knees, in just under 6 hours, so we thank him very much.  If you put your name down on one of his sponsor forms could you please pay on our website?  If you are not sure what/if you sponsored him please get in touch and I can let you know.


We have 4 very brave people (all ex Army and one has the MIlitary Cross) undertaking the Ben Nevis Challenge on 20th June to raise funds for us. They will trek, ride and canoe up and around Ben Nevis. It’s a gruelling event, especially if the weather is not good. If you could sponsor them, even for a small amount, please go to: https://www.justgiving.com/Friends-of-PWRR-Team1/



Please don’t forget our 2 books are still available to buy if you have not already done so (we now receive royalties for both) and they make good holiday reading: “The Secrets of the Singer Girls” by Kate Thompson is £7.99 (or half price in W.H. Smiths at present, or in supermarkets or Amazon) and Looking Back – A Century of Life in Bethnal Green” by Joyce Hampton, a history of life in BG from 1862 to more recent times, including her family history.  £9.99 + P & P direct from the author at: hampton.joyce14@yahoo.com


Our wonderful patron, Tommy Walsh, had a new DIY TV programme series on BBC 1 from Monday 13th April at 11.45am, every day for just over a week. It’s definitely worth catching-up on BBC iPlayer as it is so informative.  Please spread the word.  Also, another of our patrons, Cheryl Baker (formerly Bucks Fizz), is touring in a super new show. I saw it in Dartford recently and its brilliant. At the end everyone was dancing in the aisles, clapping and singing along to all their hits as well as old and new songs. See her website for dates and venues around the country (everywhere from Leeds, Norfolk, Southend, Eastbourne, Isle of Wight, etc:  www.formerlyofbucksfizz.co.uk. Don’t miss a super evening’s entertainment.

On Saturday 14th March; R Kelly pie and mash shop at 284 Bethnal Green Road (that's the one just past Valance Road if you are walking from BG tube station) held a special event to mark their 100th anniversary. They were offering free pie and mash all day in return for a donation to our charity.  They had Pearly Kings & Queens entertaining and singing with a wonderful piano player. It was a good old fashioned 'knees up'. Robert Kelly said that his family had been selling pies, jellied eels and live eels to people of Bethnal Green for 100 years and he wanted to give something back. Many of his customers must have died in the Bethnal Green tube disaster, or been injured, or were survivors or rescuers. So it was a natural thing for him to want to help us to raise more funds towards completing our memorial. Our thanks go to Robert Kelly and his family for working so hard producing the pie and mash all day long, followed by bread pudding,and helping to raise over £2000 for us. We really appreciate their generosity.
        
The station collection at Mile End last week produced donations of £652.10. We will be collecting at Bethnal Green tube station on Friday 27th March and look forward to meeting many of our followers and supporters and hope the people passing through the station will be generous and put money in our buckets.
 
Station Collections and future events: 
The recent station collection raised:  Leyton on 8th October £123.67; Bethnal Green tube station on 13th October  £318.73;  Shoreditch High Street (overground) on 7th November  £240.45;  Tottenham Court Road station on 16th November £200.13; Hackney Central was £213; Dalston Junction on 3rd December £254.79 and Surrey Quays on 9th December was £110.10. Our thanks to all our helpers that stand in the cold and wet during the day in shifts between 7am and 8pm, holding heavy buckets, especially Lynda Hiscoke who gets up at 4am to travel from Buckinghamshire to help out on the early morning shift.  Also, a huge thank-you to everyone who put money in our buckets.  We really appreciate everyone's contribution towards our charity project.  Helpers are always welcome, but please note that we do not pay any expenses - all our helpers are volunteers thankfully.  This ensure that every penny we collect goes directly towards building the final part of the Bethnal Green tube disaster memorial. We are also always happy to talk to anyone interested in helping us raise more money towards the final £46k needed to complete the project.

MAYOR BORIS JOHNSON DONATES £10,000 ON 5th June 2014

This week we were presented with a cheque for £10,000 by Mayor Boris Johnson. This was the grant that he had agreed to when I spoke to him on LBC radio last month. It has given us a much needed boost (see the full story below on 1st April).  We are now desperate to raise the last £65,000 in order to be able to complete the final part of the Bethnal Green Memorial. So please help by making your donations on our opening page. It doesn't matter how small the donation, it soon adds up. We really need to try to finish the memorial this year. Our survivors are desperate to see this completed, so for their sake please help us out.


Remember that none of our volunteers, committee members or myself, take any expenses or salary out of the charity funds.  We all do this as a labour of love. We all pay our own postage, travel, telephone, stationary, printing, etc, costs out of our own pockets to ensure that every penny donated goes directly towards building the final phase of the Stairway to Heaven Memorial.  That means no admin charges in our charity. There are not many charities around that can say that!!!
Sandra (Hon. Sec/Trustee)


1st April
March was a very successful month for donations and collections. Then Tuesday 1st April brought a big surprise that I thought was an April Fool’s joke at first.  I was invited onto to Nick Ferrari’s LBC radio show again in the morning. I had been successful in speaking to Mayor Boris Johnson, when he was doing a phone-in on the show, on 3rd March. It was too good an opportunity to miss. I explained that it was the 71st anniversary of the disaster and said that I had paid £80 out of my own pocket to ensure that our elderly supporters had hot drinks and food at our Memorial Service the day before, as so many had travelled far. He was reported in the Evening Standard a few days earlier as agreeing to pay for the Memorial Service for the 7/7 bombings for the next 3 years. I wasn’t asking for that open-ended pledge, just for him to come down to see our Memorial on the Friday, read the individual plaques and put a large cheque in my bucket whilst I was collecting at Bethnal Green tube station!!  He said he couldn’t be there on the Friday but said he’d think about what he could do. So, when I was asked to appear again on the radio show on 1st April as he was doing the phone-in again I did not know what to expect. They played part of my previous conversation with the Mayor again and then Boris announced that he couldn’t give us all we needed, but would be giving a cheque for £10,000. That was a lovely surprise. He also praised the memorial and said that all Londoners should look up the details of the terrible tragedy that affected so many lives and also contribute to the rest of the money we need. So, it was a great boost to our project.

 THE CHARITY'S AGM 2016 ; PRESENT TRUSTEES

The Stairway to Heaven Memorial Trust’s AGM took place on 14th April 2016. We approved the annual accounts which had been independently audited ready to send off to the Charity Commission.

All the existing trustees were prepared to continue in their role: Raju Vaidyanathan, Anna Reid, Barbara Spicer, Frank Summers, Mike Pattison (Chairman), Lee Scotting, Sandra Scotting, Derek Spicer, Rev. Alan Green, Alf Morris (survivor/Founder),  Edna Austin, Sue Lechmere and Babs Clark (Survivor). Most of the trustees are either survivors, have lost a relative or have some connections to the disaster or are just very willing helpers. .

Full list of Trustees' roles and background
Alf Morris is a survivor of the disaster and he first met the architect Harry Paticas who had designed the memorial. They called a meeting of those of us who were either survivors or related to the victims. The packed meeting hall adopted the Stairway to Heaven Memorial design and discussed the building of a memorial to honour the Bethnal Green tube shelter disaster at the end of 2006. The other founding trustees are:
 Fr. Alan Green, Rector of St. John on Bethnal Green Church - our Pastoral Co-ordinator.
 Derek Spicer - treasurer and fund-raising coordinator (whose brother and sister died in the disaster),  Sandra Scotting, Hon.Secretary/Trustee (whose grandmother and cousin died in the disaster and her 
 mother and aunt were survivors) who set up the charity in 2007;
 Lee Scotting - retired accountant
 Raju Vaidyanathan - marathon runner, youth worker and fund-raiser;

The other trustees are:
Mike Pattison (Chairman) who lost an uncle in the disaster, does a lot of our photography.
Babs Clark (who is a survivor);
Anna Reid - who did a sponsored silence when working as a train driver (her Great Nan died in the disaster) she manages our facebook page;
Barbara Spicer (who lost an aunt and cousin);
Frank Summers, retired project manager, helps as an unpaid consultant on the building works side; Edna Austin is expert on data and family history and manages the facebook and twitter work
Sue Lechmere (fund raiser) lost 3 members of her family in the disaster.
Our thanks to all the Trustees and other committee members who have worked so hard over the last year. Their help has been invaluable . Mike Patterson was elected as Chairman on rotation for the year and Alf Morris was elected as Vice Chairman and Founder to refresh the committee under the recommendation by the Charity Commission of 'good governance'.  We now just need to raise the last tranche of money to build the 'stairway' in order to complete the Memorial as quickly as possible.

All the Trustees pay their own expenses (phone, postage, printing, stationery and travel costs). Nothing is taken out of the funds of the charity for admin costs by the Trustees apart from the liability insurance which we have had to take out of the funds in the last year. This means that every penny raised goes towards building the Stairway to Heaven Memorial. All payments are part of the cost of building the Memorial itself which are being made in stages.

OUR PATRONS:
Tommy Walsh – formerly of Ground Force, Quest TV’s daily DIY show, Radio London's phone-in and in several TV and radio adverts with his catchphrase "Job Done" – give invaluable advice and help on the building side of the project, as well as appearing at many of our functions, talking to supporters and accepting cheques for publicity.

He is just as lovely in the flesh as he is on TV, so we are delighted about this. Tommy has lots of contacts and is helping us to reduce some of the costs of the Memorial. He still lives in the East End.


Cheryl Baker, formerly of Bucks Fizz, is also a local Bethnal Green girl who went to school there before becoming famous with her group and winning the Eurovision Song Contest. She performed in two of our plays and concerts and managed to ensure we had no overhead costs. She also kindly appears at events and liaises with school parties and at cheque presentations.

Harry Harris from Sky's Discovery Channel has helped to gain publicity about the disaster on TV and radio and supports many of our fund-raising events along with his family (including his sister Patsy Palmer). They also grew up in Bethnal Green.

Our thanks to all our patrons who do a great job of raising our profile.  Sandra (Hon. Sec) info@stairwaytoheavenmemorial.org

 For more information please give one of us a call.
Thanks
Sandra (Hon Sec/Trustee) 077324 60 444.

Derek Spicer (Fund-raising Trustee) 07722 162 168
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If you have a child or grand child at school that has not had a visit from one of our trustees to give a talk about London during the War as a child and about the Bethnal Green tube shelter disaster please let me have the school details and we will try to arrange it with their Head or history teachers. However the schools resource pack can now be downloaded from www.bgmemorial.org.uk. Likewise if you belong to a pensioners group, history society, WI, Townswomen's Guild or local club and would like us to come along and give you a talk about the disaster please let me know.

Sandra (Hon. Sec/Trustee) 077324 60 444


For more information about anything to do with the Memorial and the charity please ring Derek Spicer on 07722 162 168 or Sandra on 077324 60 444.
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