Midnight vigil for flood victims

HALF a century on and the pain of the great flood which swept in to Felixstowe is still etched in people's minds today.More than 200 people braved the cold winter's night to hold a midnight vigil and pay respect to those who perished on that dreadful evening in 1953 with a one minute's silence.

HALF a century on and the pain of the great flood which swept in to Felixstowe is still etched in people's minds today.

More than 200 people braved the cold winter's night to hold a midnight vigil and pay respect to those who perished on that dreadful evening in 1953 with a one minute's silence.

Feet crunched on snow as people made their way to the spot at Langer Primary School, Langer Road, where 6ft of water claimed 40 lives.

Rev Rod Corke, who initiated the idea for a memorial to be built in memory of the victims in the grounds of the primary school, said to the solemn mass of people: "We stand together in unity as the people of Felixstowe, and remember those who lost their lives all those years ago.


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"Pray that such a devastating event will never be visited upon Felixstowe again, we continue to learn the lesson of that tragic night."

The congregation remembered the dead and those who suffered the loss of loved ones with hymns, accompanied by the Felixstowe Salvation Army band. Gwen Howell, who lost her beloved grandfather in the flood, told of her frightening experience half a century ago.

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Alan Curtis, 66, remembers the night of January 31 clearly. He helped to build up the River Orwell's sea defences again with sandbags for three days after the flood.

"It just brings back memories and thoughts of the poor people who perished that night and the people who did the rescuing and my own personal thoughts of the time," said Mr Curtis of Felixstowe.

Younger people who were not involved in the flood also paid their respects at the vigil to remember a time in history that should never be forgotten.

"The evening was very moving, my heart goes out to those died," said Brenda Dodsom, 50, of Chaucer Road, Felixstowe. She said she wanted to go to the vigil so she could explain to her children what happened on that night in 1953.

David Leney, headteacher at Langer Primary School, asked the congregation to temper their feelings of sadness and instead think of what the children at the primary school could learn about the disaster.

He said a project, which included the memorial, had been set up to teach the pupils about what happened that night using all areas of the school curriculum including art and history.

Malcolm Minns, the mayor of Felixstowe, removed the first mound of earth with a spade to begin the building of a memorial.

Inside the school soup was served and on display was a model of the memorial to be built, a list of those who died during the floods and a collection of photographs and newspaper cuttings provided in part by The Evening Star.

n A reunion will be held today at the Marlborough Hotel in Sea Road at 7.30pm where people caught up in the tragedy will be given a chance to swap memories and catch up with friends. There will also be a service of remembrance at 3pm tomorrow at St John's Church, Orwell Road.

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