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  • Writer's picturePeter Fearnley

Flowers on the Railings (Part 2)

A photo of my laminated song lyrics was going viral on a local social media site in Sheffield. Links to the “Flowers on the Railings” video on YouTube were posted there and I started getting messages from well-wishers. The photo had been posted by Rebecca’s younger sister, Emma, and I was able to contact her privately to send my condolences and to make sure that she and her family were OK with all the fuss that was being made. Thankfully, they were. Emma told me that they had found some comfort in my words and that it was good to know that someone cared. She also sent me a copy of a photo of Becky.

Later the same day I got a call from a journalist from the Sheffield Star, who wanted to do a story about what had happened. I told him what I could, but I’m not used to speaking to the press, so when I put the phone down I had a very uneasy feeling about how the article was going to turn out. A few hours later, I got a message from a researcher from BBC Radio Sheffield asking me if I was willing to be interviewed on their Breakfast Show the next morning. That was even more nerve racking! I don’t think I slept very well that night, and I was up early - with thoughts about what I would say and how I should say it whizzing around my head.

I needn’t have worried. The host, Toby Foster, was easy to talk to and was clearly moved by Becky’s story. His team had managed to contact Becky's mum, Sharon, and he started the feature by interviewing her about what had happened on the terrible evening that Becky died. Sharon had taken her and her cousin to Hillsborough Leisure Centre to go rollerblading. Becky was just 13, and the session had been specifically arranged for young teenagers. The Centre was less than a mile away from home and at 8.00pm she left with her cousin to walk the short journey home. She was crossing the road at the pedestrian crossing outside the Centre when she was hit by a car as it sped through the red lights. She was tossed into the air and left dying at the side of the road. When the police eventually caught up with the five men in the car, it turned out that they were high on drugs and had been drinking. In an unspeakably cruel act, as she lay on the ground and her friends waited for the ambulance to arrive, someone stole her brand new pair of rollerblades. They were never returned.

Sharon explained how she places the flowers on the railings each year in memory of her beautiful daughter and also as a warning to those driving past to drive more carefully – and not to drive under the influence of drink or drugs. She said that when she arrived to put up the flowers this year, she saw a sheet of paper tied to the railings in the place where the remnants of last year’s bouquet still clung. At first, she thought it might be a notice from the Council telling her not to leave her flowers there, so she asked her husband to remove it. He untied the laminated song lyrics and they read them together. Sharon said that they were overwhelmed to think that someone had noticed the flowers appearing every year and had written, “The most beautiful verse ever.” She’d asked her daughter to put the words on Facebook in the hope of finding out who’d written them and to say thank you. As I said last week, the social media response was amazing.

I won’t go into detail about my part of the interview, other than to say the amount of praise heaped upon me would have made anyone blush. Toby urged his listeners to check out my YouTube video and summarised the piece by saying, “What a selfless thing to do mate... I think this is the nicest story I’ve ever been able to report on.” And I was delighted to have the opportunity to hear from Sharon direct, especially when she said that my words were a comfort and something that she would always treasure.

And that was that, or so I thought.

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