On Thursday, 17 May, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport delivered a ceremony to dedicate a national memorial to the British victims of overseas terrorism. The event took place at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire and was attended by over 300 members of the British families affected by terrorist attacks overseas. The event was hosted by Minister for Defence, the Rt Hon Tobias Ellwood MP, and the ceremony was led by the Archbishop of Canterbury in the presence of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. The Foreign and Home Secretaries and Labour Party leader were also among those present. Hostage UK was represented at the event by Director Lara Symons and Chairman John Smith, who attended in support of the families. The ceremony, which was held at the site of the memorial, Still Water, created by Alison Wilding and Adam Kershaw, included readings from three family members who lost loved ones in the attacks in Sousse, Tunisia (2015), In Amenas, Algeria (2013) and the Bataclan in Paris, France (2015). Also present were members of the families who lost loved ones in terrorist-related kidnaps in Syria.
Nick Hitch who is a Friend of Hostage UK shares his thoughts on the day:
‘The event was organised not only efficiently, but also with great thoughtfulness and sensitivity for the feelings of bereaved families and survivors for whom the memory of each terrorist atrocity is still raw and deeply distressing. The presence of so many distinguished guests at the dedication service and their willingness to spend time talking to families over lunch was greatly appreciated and gives us some assurance that the threat of terrorism to ordinary people travelling abroad is being taken seriously at the highest level. The creation of a national memorial to overseas terrorism and the opportunity to share the dedication service with other families has provided a sense of shared experience and fellowship that was perhaps not there before, which is a comfort to all of us.’