Bishop praises town's response

SUFFOLK'S senior bishop today praised the response of Ipswich's churches and the people of the town to last month's tragedies.Rt Rev Richard Lewis, bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, writing in the latest issue of the diocesan newsletter also praised the role of the local media as the tragedy unfolded.

By Paul Geater

SUFFOLK'S senior bishop today praised the response of Ipswich's churches and the people of the town to last month's tragedies.

Rt Rev Richard Lewis, bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, writing in the latest issue of the diocesan newsletter also praised the role of the local media as the tragedy unfolded.

He said: “I was immensely proud of the way in which the Ipswich churches responded to the general anxiety and the media hype when it dawned that we were in the middle of a high profile series of killings.

“The locally set up Street Pastor scheme came into its own and all churches provided space and time to a whole variety of people who were looking for support.

“There was a steep learning curve in relation to outside media teams, some of whom were extraordinarily insensitive and unbelievably intrusive.

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“It made us appreciate the people in our local media who were careful to sidestep the pressure to be dramatic and continued to present what was being experienced on the ground and to do it calmly and thoughtfully.

“Some of the incoming media seemed to want to play up the five women as shadowy figures in a twilight world.

“However Suffolk wasn't going to have any of that and stuck tenaciously to the fact that whatever the women may or may not have been involved in, they were first and foremost loved by those closest to them as daughters, sisters, mothers and friends.

“In theological language - part of Creation and made in the image of God.

Some of the victims who died had connections with the parish of Whitton, and vicar Rev Andrew Dotchin felt the tragic events of end of last year were still being felt in the town.

He said: “I think there has been a lasting effect, and in a sense I would not like to think that everything was now back to exactly how it was before.

“There is now much more of an awareness of the need to work with people who rely on drugs and to help those who do feel the need to work on the streets of Ipswich.”

He had noticed a difference in attitudes among people going about their normal business.

“You will see people staying physically closer to each other - you will see more people in the streets holding hands, and that is something that must be welcomed.”

The rector of Nacton and Levington, Canon Geoffrey Grant, said residents of the villages were now starting to recover after the trauma of the last few weeks.

He said: “Things have started to get back to normal, the reopening of the old A45 was a big step for the village.

“I think people didn't realise just how big the situation was at first but once all the police arrived and the focus came on to this area it really hit home.

“And I know residents here had Christmas cards from all over the country, indeed all over the world, saying people were thinking of them at this difficult time.”

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