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Parmiter’s kids hand Tommy Walsh cheque for memorial to Bethnal Green wartime disaster

PUBLISHED: 21:30 28 June 2013 | UPDATED: 08:56 01 July 2013

Parmiter's schoolgirls Georgia de Gidlow,left, and Jennifer Ballentine look at the Bethnal Green Gardens Memorial.

Parmiter's schoolgirls Georgia de Gidlow,left, and Jennifer Ballentine look at the Bethnal Green Gardens Memorial.

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Pupils from the oldest surviving school in London’s East End which is nowadays located in Hertfordshire have raised £1,000 towards an unfinished memorial to the wartime Bethnal Green air-raid shelter disaster.

Tommy Walsh (centre) with Parmiter's pupils at Stairway to Heaven Memorial in Bethnal Green GardensTommy Walsh (centre) with Parmiter's pupils at Stairway to Heaven Memorial in Bethnal Green Gardens

The youngsters from Parmiter’s Secondary handed a cheque today to TV celebrity builder and gardening presenter Tommy Walsh at the Stairway to Heaven Memorial.

Parmiter’s was established in 1681 and remained in Bethnal Green for almost three centuries before moving in 1977 out to Garston, near Watford.

But it has kept its East End links. Members of the school’s Renvoize House arrived with the cheque to help complete the memorial to the 1943 disaster, when 173 people died in a crush on a staircase leading down to a public air-raid shelter.

Walsh, the Memorial Trust’s patron, is himself a former Parmiter’s pupil when it was in Bethnal Green.

Benefactor Peter Renvoize's tomb at St Matthew's, Bethnal Green, rededicated by school Chaplin, Group Capt Donald WallaceBenefactor Peter Renvoize's tomb at St Matthew's, Bethnal Green, rededicated by school Chaplin, Group Capt Donald Wallace

The trust needs another £97,000 to finish the £450,000 memorial.

What’s left to erect is the hanging reverse staircase with its 19 steps and the names of those who died carved around the plinth. The teak steps will have 173 conical holes allowing daylight through, designed so that any sunlight at mid-day on March 3—anniversary of the disaster—will stream through to the staircase leading down to the present-day Underground station a few yards away where the tragedy took place.

The pupils were then hurriedly led off in the rain by headmaster Nick Daymond to St Mathew’s Church to lay flowers at the tomb of school benefactor Peter Renvoize after its extensive renovation.

Lunch followed at the Museum of Childhood before a quick visit to the school’s former campus in Approach Road nearby, now the home of Raine’s Foundation School.


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