'I want lasting change' - Campaigner on Norwich Sarah Everard tributes

The candlelit vigil for Sarah Everard at Chapelfield Gardens bandstand in Norwich.

The candlelit vigil for Sarah Everard at Chapelfield Gardens bandstand in Norwich. - Credit: Natasha Harpley

A women's rights campaigner has praised a floral vigil in memory of Sarah Everard.

The tributes and candles were left at the Chapelfield Gardens bandstand in Norwich city centre after organisers of the Reclaim Our Streets vigil cancelled its event on March 13 at Clapham Common, London - where Ms Everard was last seen - due to coronavirus restrictions.

Sarah Everard, 33, whose body was found in Kent Woodland on March 10.

Sarah Everard, 33, whose body was found in Kent Woodland on March 10. - Credit: PA

The 33-year-old's body was found in Kent woodland on March 10, seven days after she walked through the London park.

Broadland district councillor Natasha Harpley, 41, who has experienced sexual assault, said: "People feel touched by it. They want to express their sadness and anger."

Many women did go to the Clapham Common vigil, which prompted criticism of the police due to its enforcement, as well as around the country where scenes were more peaceful.

But as well as leaving floral tributes, many people paid respects virtually through posting pictures of candles flickering on social media on Saturday night.

Candles were also left on people's doorsteps at 9.30pm in her memory.

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Ms Harpley, who has two teenager daughters and a 10-year-old son, added that moving the event online was more inclusive and helped people mark the occasion privately, if that was what suited them.

Natasha Harpley, Broadland District Councillor for Sprowston has launched a petition calling on Firs

Natasha Harpley who represents Sprowston Central Ward on Broadland District Council and speaks up for women's rights. - Credit: Labour Party

But she also appreciated that some people wanted to physically pay their respects.

The district councillor, who represents Sprowston Central ward, said the police reaction to the Clapham Common vigil left her shaking.

Despite welcoming the government's measures to make streets safer for women, Ms Harpley said it lacked substance.

She believed the onus should be on preventative measures and educating boys and men.

"I want the narrative to change. At the moment women keep our eyes down and won't call people out. If we make a fuss we are criticised about being hysterical. We have got to go back to basics and talk about why this is happening.

"I would like there to be some lasting change from this but I'm not hopeful," she said.

Met Police officer Wayne Couzens, of Deal, appeared at the Old Bailey on March 16 accused of murdering and kidnapping Ms Everard.

The judge set a plea hearing date for July 9 and a provisional trial for October 25.

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