New rose in tribute to Soham tragedy

A ROSE grown in tribute to murdered schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman will be unveiled at Britain's most prestigious flower show next month.The Soham Rose - which growers say is a pearly blush floribunda - has been created by one of the country's leading rose growing firms.

A ROSE grown in tribute to murdered schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman will be unveiled at Britain's most prestigious flower show next month.

The Soham Rose - which growers say is a pearly blush floribunda - has been created by one of the country's leading rose growing firms.

It will be unveiled at the Chelsea Flower Show in London in mid-May by Harkness Roses of Hitchin, Hertfordshire.

Holly and Jessica's parents have been consulted about the project and given their approval.


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They are not expected to attend the flower show, which runs between May 20 and 23, but they will be given rose bushes to plant in their gardens.

Holly's father, Kevin, 39, read a poem, which he had written, called The Soham Rose, at a memorial service for the girls in Ely Cathedral, near Soham, Cambridgeshire, and the rose gets its name from that poem.

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Robert Harkness, 51, a director of Harkness Roses, said he wanted the Soham Rose to be seen as a tribute, not only to the murdered girls, but also to the people of Soham.

"The idea actually came from a gentleman called Laslo Puskas, who photographs our roses for catalogues and so on," said Mr Harkness.

"He heard the Soham Rose poem, which was read out at the memorial service and was very moved.

"He came up with the idea that we could dedicate a rose to the girls and to the people of Soham.

"We shall use it as a way of generating money for the memorial fund which has been set up in the girls' memory and 25% of sales of the rose will go to that fund.

"I thought it was a very good idea, so we made contact with Soham Town Council and with the local vicar. He contacted the girls' parents and they gave their approval.

"We wanted to make sure that everyone felt comfortable with the idea before we went ahead.''

Mr Harkness said his growers had a number of roses which had been developing since the mid-1990s and chose an appropriate one to be the Soham Rose.

"It will be formally unveiled at the preview day for the Chelsea Flower Show, which is on May 19,'' added Mr Harkness.

Holly and Jessica vanished shortly after being seen walking near their homes in Soham, Cambridgeshire on August 4 last year. Their bodies were found two weeks later in a ditch near Lakenheath.

Two people charged in connection with their deaths appeared at the Old Bailey, London on Wednesday.

Ian Huntley, 29, a former school caretaker in Soham, denied murdering the girls, but admitted to conspiring to pervert the course of justice.

Maxine Carr, 25, Huntley's former girlfriend, who was a teaching assistant in Holly and Jessica's class, pleaded not guilty to two charges of assisting an offender and one charge of conspiring to pervert the course of justice.

Their trial is scheduled to begin at the Old Bailey on October 6.

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