Suffolk steel tragedy: Floral tributes illustrate village’s loss

A Suffolk community has been touched by tragedy after the deaths of four men working in Great Yarmouth. LYNNE MORTIMER visited the village of Stanton

BETHANY brought flowers for her dad and placed them at the war memorial in the centre of Stanton village.

The memorial lists 27 names of those who died in the Second World War but today, alongside the poppy wreaths from Remembrance Day, last November, lie floral tributes to the three Stanton men and one man from Rickinghall who died in an industrial accident, last Friday.

Brothers Thomas, 26, and Daniel Hazelton, 30, Peter Johnson, 42, and Adam Taylor, 28 were killed while working at Claxton Engineering Services Ltd in Great Yarmouth.

Adam was from Rickinghall and Thomas, Daniel and Peter came from Stanton.


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Bethany’s dad was Peter Johnson and her words, written out on a card nestled among the flowers read: “Wait for me dad, I love you. I’m going to make you proud, I swear.”

The young woman and her mother paused to look at the other flowers before leaving, chilled on a cold January day.

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The sun tried to break through the clouds but even when it did manage to brighten the sky. it brought no warmth. Along the grass verges and hedgerows there are few signs of spring.

Although there is grief, the people that pass by walking their dogs or visiting the local bakery, post office or general store are not aloof.

“Hello” says one resident with a smile.

“Good afternoon,” another greets me.

Dignified in sorrow, they do not treat the media – and there are a number here – as interlopers. This is a sadness they share.

A BBC radio Suffolk car and television vans from BBC Look East and an Anglia TV are here as well as the newspapers.

When tragedy strikes so hard at small communities it affects everyone, even visitors.

Village life goes on. The children are in the school playground, noisy and active. The birds are singing in anticipation of spring and the local bus service plies to and from Diss, stopping by the memorial.

The people who live here, around 2,700 at the last census, are proud of their Suffolk village. One man, walking his dog, picks up any bits of litter he finds on footpath.

In the churchyard of All Saints, many of the well-tended graves have Christmas wreaths. Inside the church, where, on Sunday, prayers were said for all those involved in the tragedy, the altar is overlooked by a stained glass window that shows Jesus with a lantern at a door. It is a reassuring image based on Holman Hunt’s famous Light of the World.

At lunchtime on Monday, the war memorial was not festooned with flowers; a few bunches propped against the stone with their poignant, heartfelt messages.

“To Tom and Dan. The best uncles I have ever had. I love you so much. I miss you all of the time.” On the other side of the card is written: “To Adam. I loved your football skills”

Another: “To my darling sons”.

Another begins: “My darling Daniel...” personal words of love.

The sense of loss is piercing.

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