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Thursday, 15 August, 2002, 14:42 GMT 15:42 UK
Memorial for 1952 flood disaster
Flood damage at Lynmouth
The floods led to huge damage and deaths in 1952
Hundreds of people have attended a memorial service for the 34 people who died during a flood disaster 50 years ago.

The Bishop of Exeter, the Right Reverend Michael Langrish, led a service on Thursday marking the day when the Devon village of Lynmouth was engulfed in a torrent of water.

The parish church at Lynton was full as 200 people listened to the service, the first of a day-long series of events.

Dozens of homes were wrecked when floods swept down a steep valley sending 90 million tonnes of water through the village in one of the UK's worst disasters.


I remember a lot of those people who perished that night - it is those people we should remember

Survivor Derek Harper
Relatives of the flood victims were among the hundreds who gathered in the coastal village for the anniversary.

Some of those who took part in the huge clean-up operation in the wake of the devastation also returned to north Devon for the event.

Bishop Langrish led prayers to those who died and during an address to the congregation spoke about those currently suffering from flooding across Europe.

"Who can stand in this setting without being stunned by the beauty of the place," he said before the service.

Walk of witness

"And then you remember what happened 50 years ago and there is that sense of horror still.

"Your heart goes out to those who lost relatives."

Retired policeman Derek Harper, awarded the George Medal for his rescue efforts during 27 hours of duty, said: "I remember a lot of those people who perished that night - it is those people we should remember."

The Bishop is set to lead a walk of witness along the banks of the East Lyn and West Lyn rivers, which over flowed in 1952.

Lynmouth flooding
Many lost their homes in the floods
The Lord Lieutenant of Devon is set to unveil a memorial wooden cross to the victims on the Lyndale bridge at Lynmouth.

The memorial cross was suggested by the Bishop of Exeter at the time of the disaster, the late Right Reverend Robert Mortimer, at a memorial service two weeks after the floods.

The 10-feet high cross was made by 63-year-old boatbuilder Richard Berry, who survived the flood as a teenager.

The disaster happened after 9.1 inches of rain fell on nearby Exmoor in a 24-hour period, sending water and rocks crashing down on Lynmouth through the darkness.

Doves released

Seven people were killed in other Exmoor villages which felt the destructive force of floodwater pouring down narrow valleys, including Parracombe, Filleigh, Simonsbath, Withypool, Exford, Winsford and Dulverton.

The names of the 34 who died are to be read out during the main memorial service in the centre of Lynmouth.

Finally 34 doves are to be released by local school children from the village harbour to end the day's event.

The vicar of Lynton and Lynmouth, the Reverend Phil Ringer, said: "Doves are the creatures in the Bible who came back and told Noah the flood was over."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Sarah Morris
"A simple cross of Exmoor oak will be erected as a memorial"

Click here to go to Devon
See also:

30 Oct 00 | UK
29 Oct 00 | Scotland
29 Oct 00 | UK
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