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Last Updated: Friday, 14 March 2008, 12:53 GMT
Bulger 'refuge' appeal launched
James Bulger
James Bulger would have celebrated his 18th birthday this week
The mother of murdered two-year-old James Bulger has launched an appeal to provide the first memorial to him.

Organisers want to raise 1m to set up the Red Balloon Learner Centre, a refuge for bullied children.

James was killed by two 10-year-old schoolboys after being abducted in The Strand shopping centre in Bootle, Merseyside, on 12 February 1993.

His mother Denise Fergus was joined by Esther Rantzen at the launch of the Red Balloon James Bulger House Appeal.

The refuge is likely to be in a house near Liverpool city centre and will help about 15 youngsters who have been bullied.

Red Balloon is a specialist group which provides education for youngsters who cannot return to mainstream education.

Denise Fergus with Esther Rantzen
Nothing can ever bring back James and I have got to live with that knowledge
Denise Fergus

Ms Fergus and Ms Rantzen were also joined by Merseyside Chief Constable Bernard Hogan-Howe at the launch of the appeal at the Radisson Hotel in Liverpool.

James, who was battered to death by schoolboys Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, would have celebrated his 18th birthday this Sunday.

Thompson and Venables were jailed at Preston Crown Court in 1993, but have since been released and now live under new identities.

Ms Fergus said: "Nothing can ever bring back James and I have got to live with that knowledge.

"His 18th birthday is going to be a particularly hard time for me and all our family, not having him with us.

'Remember with hope'

"I will never forget my son and I still get messages of support from all over the world. So, I was very pleased when Esther explained about her idea for a memorial to James."

Ms Fergus added: "I was shocked to learn how many children commit suicide every year because of bullying.

"If James Bulger House can help save the life of just one child in that terrible situation then it will be a fitting tribute to my son."

Ms Rantzen said: "It is extraordinary that there is no memorial to him, no way for his family and his community to remember him with hope, to help other children in his name.

"Now there will be."

Carrie Herbert, founder and director of Red Balloon, said funding James Bulger House was the organisation's most important development yet.

Youngsters are referred to Red Balloon Centres by local authorities.

Children take part in lessons which involve small groups of pupils and are designed to boost their self-esteem.

Denise Fergus launches appeal for anti-bullying centre

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