The last few days have been an incredibly challenging time for Reading residents, and everyone connected with our great town. The unimaginable horror of this unprovoked, senseless act of violence is difficult to fathom. Three lives have been cruelly cut short and 3 others sustained serious injuries. Our thoughts go out to the families and friends of the victims and hopes for a full and speedy recovery to those that are injured. Huge thanks also go to our emergency services, yet again showing huge bravery to protect our communities and then pick up the pieces after such tragic events as this.
Anyone connected with Reading will know the importance of Forbury Gardens, one of the best descriptions I have read is that it is Reading’s back garden. That’s the thing, it is ours. Each of us will have our own memories and our own stories of the Forbury, which is what makes this tragedy seem so real and so close to home. For me it means teenage cider drinking, picnics on a first date, food festivals, political gatherings with colleagues, meetings friends for lunch and walking through with my kids to just take in the vibe and scenery. It’s a focal point of our town and will continue to be so.
Over the last few days as more details emerge of the victims and the lives they lived, the futures that have been lost I have found myself welling up and shedding tears at various points during the day. I don’t want to see my town on the news or on the front pages like this, because this is not Reading, this is not the Reading I have known and loved all my life. The Reading we all know is the one that cares, the one of great community, the one with great respect for one another and where we all just get on.
In the last few days I have felt grief for those lost and hurt, sorrow for those loved ones left behind, anger-how dare you do this in my town but also strength and pride. Pride in how already this great town and its residents have come together and will continue to do so to not cave in the face of this mindless terror. We have already come together for minutes silences and a more fitting, permanent memorial will come in due course. We will reclaim our Forbury, our back garden as the heart of Reading.