Jodie Chesney vigil: Harold Hill park is turned purple as hundreds pay their respects to Jodie Chesney
PUBLISHED: 22:55 15 March 2019 | UPDATED: 22:55 15 March 2019
Hundreds of people packed Amy's Park in Harold Hill tonight to pay tribute to Jodie Chesney who died in the park two weeks ago.
The park in St Neot’s Road has been transformed into a sea of purple over the last few weeks, with flowers, balloons and candles all being placed in memory of the 17-year-old girl scout.
Jodie died on Friday, March 1 (exactly two weeks ago) after an incident in the park.
Speaking at the vigil, Rev Martin Bailey, from the Church of St Paul’s in Harold Hill said: “I want to say thank you, I live in this community, I cannot believe the trust that has been given to me, to have the privilege to speak this evening.
“Our hearts go out yet again to the ones that Jodie loved, her family, her many friends, there are people here now who knew Jodie so well.
“I’ve seen her beautiful style pictures, her pictures of proud moments, an explorer scout standing in respect of others.
“I’ve seen the families, friends pictures and posts I’ve heard the tributes to a character of kindness, goodness and thoughtfulness.
“And I’ve watched and shared the weeping of those who loved her, some of you have had the privilege of knowing her.
“A proud geek a great girl, a beautiful person.
“I want to say two important things, the first about community, the second about life.
“Simply being here now, is a powerful picture of what our community is.
“The challenge and our determination must now be to show we are the community of individuals but what it means to behave as a community, recognising we are all neighbours, because this has been a place of unimaginable pain and sorrow.
“We must take the opportunity now to use that painful moment as a launchpad for something positive lets be ambitions to display the transforming power that comes out of genuine respect in the community.
“Its the respect of simple being human and being very precious.
“Our default setting needs to be loving respectfulness to every human being whether we know them or not.
“There’s a handwritten sign on the railings over there, that says choose life drop the knife, its a great sign but I need you to know whoever wrote that sign its a fantastic sign, but I want to tell you, choose life is a phrase that first came out of the bible.
“People need to be told what’s wrong, they need to understand its consequences, and directed to what is right.”
Crowds gathered to remember Jodie with both a minutes applause and a minutes silence, while a number of moving tributes were made in front of the hundreds of people who came together to pay their respects.
Purple ribbons and bows are lining the high streets in Havering as well as on people’s front doors, outside businesses and in schools, in memory of Jodie from Dagenham.
People have also been paying their respects in other countries such as Canada and Australia by sharing their own photos of purple ribbons.
At around 7pm tonight (Friday, March 15) touching messages of support were given to Jodie’s family, friends and loved ones and more than 1,000 candles were lit in her memory.