April 20 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, January 2, 2014
Shortly after midnight on January 1, as corks pop and Havering toasts the New Year, one Harold Hill family makes an agonising trip.
For the Taylors, there’s little to celebrate. The date is a painful reminder of the murder of their son Chrissy by former neighbour Mark Parrish on New Year’s Day 2004.
Every New Year since then, Chrissy’s dad Kevin and his family have spent the early hours making a sombre journey to the spot where their son was murdered.
Kevin knows the family may never have another happy New Year – but with the 10th anniversary of Chrissy’s death on Wednesday came a glimmer of hope.
The Taylors invited friends and family to join them as they released 200 white balloons in memory of their son.
“We didn’t know how many would turn up,” said Kevin, 57, “but there must have been 130 or 140 – a really good show.
“It was a dreadful day and people are normally doing things – but they put that aside and came out to pay a little respect to Chrissy.
“It still gives us great comfort that, 10 years on, he’s always remembered by his friends and family.”
Chrissy didn’t just leave an impression on those who knew him – a decade of fundraising in his name has seen the neonatal intensive care unit at Queen’s Hospital, Romford, benefit from nearly £25,000 worth of equipment.
“We hear about people using the equipment and in a way Chrissy is still living,” said Kevin.
Chrissy, who loved children, never got the chance to meet his six nieces and nephews, the eldest of whom is now nine years old – but they, too, take part in the family’s memorial each year.
That brings a challenge of its own.
“They ask what happened to Uncle Chrissy and you find it hard to tell them,” said Kevin.
The Taylors’ New Year ritual is a bitter reminder of the fun they used to have together.
“We had some great times on New Year’s Eve,” remembered Kevin. “Now it’s pretty solemn.
“We just wait around until midnight, then go out in the rain to lay flowers – so a big part of New Year’s Eve has been taken away too.”
With the 2011 conviction of Hilldene Avenue man Parrish, then 37, came some small relief – though Kevin knows the hole left by Chrissy can never be filled.
“I would have hated to have carried on the rest of our lives never knowing,” he admitted, “so it eases that anxiety