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Wednesday was meant to be a joyous day in Shrewsbury as residents prepared for the yearly event of turning on the Christmas lights.
However, instead of joy and celebration, the market town is mourning the loss of four of its residents.
Wilf Fitchett, Jevon Hirst, Harvey Owen, and Hugo Morris were all popular and respected high school students, currently pursuing their A-level studies at Shrewsbury College.
Upon learning of the tragic event that occurred on Tuesday, where they lost their lives in a car accident in North Wales, there was an initial shock followed by a wave of emotions expressed by many.
Have you been affected by the loss of the four teenagers? Please email [email protected].
Shrewsbury Abbey opened its doors early for students at the college’s English Bridge campus, where the four studied, for solace and tributes.
A group of nine teenagers visited a display near the altar, bringing flowers and lighting candles before sitting in the front pew to reflect in silence.
“I can’t wrap my head around it – it just doesn’t seem real,” said 16-year-old Dan Cox in an interview with The Independent. “They were such great guys, it’s truly devastating and we’re all deeply affected by it. We had just spoken to them a few days ago.”
William Love, 17, expressed, “I am reminiscing about the enjoyable moments we shared, trying to maintain a positive outlook, but it’s difficult not to feel saddened – they were a part of our group and it’s affecting all of us.”
The university was available for attendance, however, it was the students’ choice whether or not to attend. On the campus, located on the opposite side of River Severn from the city center, students constructed a floral memorial on a stone staircase near a side entrance. The words “Love you all loads. Fly high” were inscribed in chalk on the steps.
In addition, there were flowers arranged and a note written by hand for the teenagers, which included a photo of one of them.
A few of the students who arrived at the campus were overwhelmed with sadness and were seen crying while embracing their friends.
The nearby pizzeria, Dough and Oil, where Harvey was employed, shut down and the owners shared a statement on Instagram, praising the 17-year-old for being “laid-back, humorous, kind, intelligent, diligent, and modest”.
We extend our love, thoughts, and condolences to Harvey’s family and friends. Their lives were full of promise before being tragically cut short.
The town’s Market Square, known for its historical significance, was just a short walk away. A stage and Christmas lights had been prepared for the annual switch-on event, but a sign was displayed announcing its cancellation due to a tragic incident.
Onlookers gathered, observing the vacant stage and conversing in hushed tones about what authorities suspect was an incident at Garreg in Snowdonia.
Fifty-one-year-old shopper Paul Rowson captured the sentiment, stating, “Today feels different. I was on the bus earlier and hardly anyone was talking.”
The town of Shrewsbury is tightly-knit and the impact of recent events will be felt by everyone in some manner.
Four adolescents had gone to Meole Brace School, located in the southwestern area of the town. At a nearby location called the Trinity Centre, which is a part of the Trinity Churches group, a “peaceful spot” was established with candles and a tree where mourners could leave messages of remembrance.
The location was inaugurated in anticipation of another commemorative gathering in the city, at Oxon Church where Reverend Charlotte Gompertz, the vicar, stated that she was acquainted with some of the families connected to the event.
She mentioned that comprehending this tragedy will be a lengthy process for us.
Vicar Phil Cansdale shared that over 50 people gathered at Trinity Centre to leave messages in honor of the teenagers. He expressed, “Our group of churches is working to provide support to the grieving yet lovely community of Shrewsbury.”
As the day progressed, more visitors left candles at the town’s historic abbey.
Steve Swindon, the administrator of the parish, expressed that the news has surprised and saddened the community of Shrewsbury, as well as the entire county and country. He acknowledged that the four boys were living their lives to the fullest, but unfortunately, they were taken away in a tragic and unexpected manner.
He stated, “Shrewsbury has the feeling of a large village, with a close-knit community. I am aware that many individuals are struggling at this moment and will continue to do so for a while, but we are here to support them.”