Great Yarmouth memorial garden to be reinstated with poignant plaque
- Credit: Archant © 2010
A memorial garden which was swept away by a multi-million pound regeneration project is being reinstated with a new collective plaque at St George's Theatre.
More than thirty years ago dozens of people contributed to benches, flower beds and trees to remember their loved ones.
But the poignant reminders were ripped up without warning as the £4m scheme to refurbish the former chapel and add a seperate cafe/pavilion got underway causing shock and outrage.
Valerie Howkins, 81, who orchestrated the original scheme said the dedication service on Tuesday, November 18 would go some way to bringing comfort to those upset by the insensitive clearance.
One of the plaques was in memory of her teenage son David.
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She said: 'I came along one morning and they had chopped all the trees down and they were shredding them. Everyone who contributed to the garden was up in arms and very distressed. One lady paid for a seat for her son which was uprooted and thrown in a skip. It really has been a sad saga with a lot of emotion and feeling.
'But I am just so grateful that the names of all these people are going to be remembered and I hope it will comfort them.'
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Relatives and friends of those commemorated on the bronze plaque of the new stone memorial are invited to attend the dedication service, which will start at 2pm at the memorial, or inside the Pavilion in the event of rain. The memorial will be sited beside the plaza.
The dedication service, to be led by The Rev Albert Cadmore, the mayor's chaplain, will include an introduction to the history of the memorial and the lighting of a candle by Mrs Howkins.
The names will be read aloud by Marlene Fairhead, the mayor of the Great Yarmouth, borough, councillor Mary Coleman, the deputy mayor, and Barry Coleman, the chairman of St George's Theatre Trust.
After the formal dedication, Mrs Fairhead will lay flowers on behalf of the borough, and there will be a closing prayer and blessing. Afterwards, tea and cake will be served in the Pavilion.
Mrs Fairhead said: 'I am pleased that we are able to reinstate a collective memorial for those who were previously commemorated in this location. This will again provide a poignant tribute to these people, who in their different ways have helped to enrich the borough.
'And the regeneration project, including the construction of the new Pavilion building and Plaza, has helped to transform the area into a more pleasant and popular public space, which is more fitting for such a memorial.'
Great Yarmouth Borough Council completely refurbished the Grade I-listed St George's Theatre, which dates back to 1714, as part of the £4m Townscape Heritage Initiative scheme, an area-based conservation-led regeneration scheme for the King Street area.
The £3.8m St George's project also included the construction of the Pavilion, a new building which operates as a booking office for the theatre and as a café bar, plus a new plaza where people can sit at tables in fine weather and enjoy open-air performances during special events.
Mrs Howkins is keen for all those involved in the original garden to receive an official invite. Anyone she has not been able to contact is asked to get in touch with Laura Goodman at the town hall on 01493 846125.