This is probably more of a reflective post. Today, I watched “Soham: A Parent’s Tale”, the commemorative programme marking the 10th anniversary of the murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman. When I read that this was to be aired, I was shocked that it has been that long since their death. For those who don’t remember, Holly and Jessica were ten years-old when they were murdered by Ian Huntly, the local school caretaker, in the village of Soham. I remember the news coverage of it pretty clearly, as the media became flooded with images of the two girls in their Manchester United t-shirts, which became instantly recognisable and iconic. What made these murders so shocking and memorable for me was the fact that the girls were only a few months older than me. They had simply been playing in a park, in a quiet village, something I did so frequently at that age. Growing up in a village, you never expect something like that to happen, which is probably what was so frightening about the girls’ deaths.
Watching the programme, which focussed on interviewing Holly Well’s parents and close family, I was touched and affected by many things. Firstly, I was struck by the bravery and strength of her parents, Kevin and Nicola. Not only did they have the strength to make the interview and reflect on the tragedy, they did so with amazing dignity, grace and frankness. They seemed to have very little anger towards Huntly, and instead channeled their energy into remembering their daughter as she was, as well as reflecting on how she would be now. Kevin Wells came across as a very strong father, holding his family together in a time of unimaginable pain. Not only this, but he also wrote a diary at the time of the event, which he shared parts of during the filming. These diaries gave amazing insight, but were also raw and emotional to hear. I was filled with genuine admiration for the Wells family, and also for the family of Jessica, who have made the understandable choice to keep their grieving out of the media.
Watching the documentary, I also began to reflect on myself. Obviously I’ve never been in the tragic situation of losing a family member in such an awful way, but it made me think of my friend Christina’s death, and how I handled it both now and at the time. Even though she died of natural causes, I still felt angry and ‘robbed’, and so if I knew there was someone to blame, I’m fairly sure I would react with a great deal of anger towards them, and probably would campaign to see their head on a platter. Knowing that I would feel this way makes my admiration of the Wells family even greater.
I mentioned that Kevin Wells recorded his feelings in a diary, and this I can definitely relate to. At the time of Christina’s death, I didn’t keep a diary as such, but I wrote to her daily on a social network site, and even submitted a reflective piece about her death to be considered for my Advanced Higher English portfolio. Writing about what I felt was incredibly hard and emotional, and still is, but also remarkably cathartic.
Finally, I was particularly affected by the family’s continued use of a psychic medium to attempt to contact their daughter. People may be sceptical of this, and although I’ve never considered it myself, I can fully sympathise with the desperation to have some contact with the loved one they miss so much, but know they cannot see.
I think everyone should take the time to remember the two girls who died on 2nd August 2002, as it makes their tragic deaths seem less in vain. I would also genuinely recommend watching the programme, as I found it inspirational.
Comments to Christina
“I miss you so much, it’s really hit me today. I can’t do anything now. I miss you. I need you back. I can’t sleep properly, I think about you constantly and sometimes I forget you’re gone. I’m scared to go to uni cos its gonna be a whole bunch of places that you’ve never been. I hate all of this. My leg cramped up today, it was agonising. CF and diabetes scares me that much more. I need a hug from you.” 29.04.09.
“Today’s been the worst since we found out. I started crying and shaking the moment i got into the church and then couldn’t stop. I wasn’t too bad til I saw your coffin, for some reason I didn’t expect it. I’ve never felt so upset, I just cant believe I’ll never see you again. I’ve never cried and actually felt physical pain, like doubled over crying.
Eilidh did so well today, so so well, and so did Lorna. I wish I was doing that well tbh, but i just cant. You changed my life, how can i do this without you?
Your family were proper lovely to me, they’re so nice. I didn’t think they’d know who I was but they did. Your dad said “you’re the big sister, keep being strong”. That was so sweet :] I will try babe.” 03.04.09