Controversy over bomb victim Saffie's Christmas memorial in Leyland as Storm Dennis hits

The blown over tree in Leyland
The blown over tree in Leyland

A tree used a special memorial to Manchester Bomb victim Saffie Roussos has been blown over by Storm Dennis.

The Leyland Town Team, which arranged for the pink star to be made and placed on the tree outside The Plaice fish and chip shop formerly owned by Saffie’s family on Hough Lane, said the tree was dying anyway and was due to be replaced.

Saffie Roussos

Saffie Roussos

Martin Carlin, chairman of Leyland Town Team, explained; “The tree where we put Saffie’s Star was blown over by Storm Dennis.

“We knew last year the tree was dying and we’d get only one more Christmas out of it.

“So it was no surprise it was always going to come down.”

He said “ongoing discussions” had been taking place with South Ribble Council regarding the tree, with Mr Carlin suggesting the possibility of the site being part of the council’s regeneration plans for Leyland.

He said: “My idea was to put something like the Bamber Bridge tree – the metal one – there.”

The tree is on private land.

The glittering star was part of the Leyland Christmas Festival lights,

It was designed by Richard Ryan, head of the world-famous Blackpool Illuminations.

Mr Ryan had worked with the town team on its Christmas lights in the past.

However, in a message on the public Facebook group, the Leyland Hub, Mike Swanny, who acted as spokesperson for the Roussos family in the wake of the tragedy, said he did not want to see the star return.

He told the Guardian today: “It’s very good closure, I think.”

Referring to the naming of the storm - Storm Dennis - he added; “I think Dennis the Menace is very much like Saffie’s character - it couldn’t have been anybody else but Dennis the Menace.”

He continued: “The first year it (the star) was amazing and it felt right, the second year we (his family) didn’t know what to make of it, this year we tried to by pass it.

“I think our heads were in a different place.

“Just let it go now.”

Councillor Susan Jones, cabinet member for environment said, “The council has removed the tree following its damage as a result of the weekend’s storm.

“Sadly the tree was diseased and already the Council along with Leyland’s Town Team have been in discussions about an appropriate replacement of the
memorial.

“We’re going to be working closely now and ensuring we are in line with the wishes of Saffie’s family to explore plans for an appropriate memorial to remain in Leyland.”
Saffie, inset, was among the 22 victims killed when suicide bomber Salman Abedi set off a bomb at an Ariana Grande concert at the venue.