Former mayor dedicates tree to brother 27 years after his death
PUBLISHED: 12:30 26 December 2019
Former Ipswich mayor Jane Riley has marked the end of her year in office by planting a tree in the park where she and her family erected a memorial to the brother killed in an accident nearly 30 years ago.
Jane Riley and her parents planted three trees in the recreation ground at Brunswick Park in memory of her brother, Andy Riley, who died in 1992 in a chemical explosion at a research centre in California, aged 34.
Now, nearly 30 years later, she has planted an official tree as part of a tradition to mark the end of a mayoral year.
Mayors normally place their tree in one of the town's main parks, but Ms Riley decided to plant her tree in the smaller recreation ground as it holds such a strong sentimental value to her.
Mr Riley, a former Northgate High School pupil and Oxford University graduate, was researching cold fusion, a potentially low-cost energy source, when his experiment exploded, killing him and injuring two of his colleagues.
His sister said: "We grew up in Whitby Road and Andy, my other brother Graham and myself attended Sidegate Lane Primary School and Northgate, so Brunswick Rec' was the place where we all played as children.
"After Andy died we decided as a family to plant the trees at the rec' in memory of him.
"I was pleased to see those three trees are still flourishing almost three decades later and it was a special and poignant moment to go back and plant 'my tree' which marks my Mayoral year."
Ms Riley, who was in office between 2018/19 and is now the deputy mayor, planted the tree on December 9, which would have been her brother's 61st birthday.
"I was quite nervous when I first went into the park as I hadn't been to the trees for years," she said.
"I remember the plaque had been broken shortly after we planted the trees so I was worried the trees might have been damaged or might not be there at all.
"When we first planted the trees by daughter was 18 months old, she's now 28. So much has changed at Brunswick rec' since then.
"I've been going back more often now. I want to plant a whole row of trees there for Andy. It's planting for the future."