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Wednesday, 11 September, 2002, 01:58 GMT 02:58 UK
Remembering the British victims
Saint Thomas Church on Fifth Avenue
The service was like a traditional choral evensong

It was a very British occasion, in the heart of New York City.

More than 100 relatives of UK citizens who died on 11 September attended a special service of remembrance at Saint Thomas Church on Fifth Avenue.

New Yorkers, on their way home from work, stopped to watch as the bereaved families arrived to the sound of a pipe band.

Heads turned at the unaccustomed sight of a large number of British bobbies suddenly materialising on one of New York's best known thoroughfares.

More than 300 police officers, from 44 different forces across the UK, attended the service at their own expense.

PC Tony Ward
PC Tony Ward said officers shared the families' hurt
They were smartly turned out in their best uniforms, many wearing service medals. They were from as far afield as the Channel Islands and the North of Scotland.

PC Tony Ward, from Thames Valley Police, summed up their feelings.

"We support the policemen and we support the firemen. We feel the hurt of the families, and we want to show them that we are thinking of them," he said.

"We have all paid for it ourselves, the air fares and the hotels, and we have taken leave to do it.

"So there was nothing free, and there were hundreds and hundreds who wanted to come but couldn't, logistically, it was out of the question."

WPC Lorrayn Evanson-Goddard, from Kent Constabulary, travelled to New York from Canterbury, with her two-year-old daughter Arabella.

WPC Lorrayn Evanson-Goddard
Lorrayn Evanson-Goddard and daughter
"We lost an officer a couple of years ago, but these guys lost hundreds. You cannot comprehend it.

"We will never see anything like this again."

Also present was a contingent from the London Fire Brigade, among them Station Officer Eddie Fiander.

"It was very, very important for us to be here for our American colleagues who died," he said.

"We are doing it in our own time. We were helped by Richard Branson of Virgin, who gave us concessionary tickets to come over, so we have to thank him."

The British police officers and firefighters will be parading in the vicinity of Ground Zero on Wednesday for the American ceremony of remembrance to mark the first anniversary of 11 September.

Choral evensong

Tuesday night's service was to honour the 67 British victims of the terrorist attacks on America.

The rector, the Reverend Andrew Mead, said they had been "innocently going about their work" when they were killed.

The service was in the form of a traditional choral evensong, and the church was packed.

The congregation stood for the playing of God Save The Queen, and remained standing as Foreign Secretary Jack Straw read the message from the monarch.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, blessed a memorial to the dead, before the closing hymn, Abide With Me.

Many of those present will be at Ground Zero this morning, to join with American families in remembering all those who died, one year ago today.

Click here to watch people in London give their views about September 11

New York despatches





See also:

10 Sep 02 | Americas
10 Sep 02 | Americas
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