The bombers struck on Saturday 20th March, the Saturday before Mother’s Day. A weekend which saw Warrington town centre busy with shoppers in the early Spring sunshine. Two coded messages were received indicating that bombs were planted outside a Boots store. Police had been put on alert, whilst emergency procedures took place at the Liverpool branch. The two bombs, planted in two separate litter bins, exploded within seconds of each other outside the branch in Warrington, sending panicked shoppers at the scene of first explosion into the path of the second attack. The bins acted almost like a large hand grenade, with shrapnel being blown in all directions.
Three year old Jonathan Ball and twelve-year-old Tim Parry were fatally injured in the attack; Both of these faces have since been the focal point of the programme for peace, not just in Warrington, but across the UK and The Republic of Ireland.
Speaking at the special ceremony held at the scene of the attack, father of Tim, Colin Parry spoke of how the ‘Peace Centre’, set up Tim and Jonathan’s memory, has helped his family. He stated how “good had come out of evil” and that the work of the Peace Centre had made a “real and unique difference” to the peace process.
On the Wednesday of the same week that the special memorial service took place, hundreds more people gathered to stand shoulder to shoulder, in silence, paying their respects, tributes and memories twenty years on. Balloons and white doves were released into the Warrington skies – a simple gesture which acknowledged the grief of victims’ families and the grief the town of Warrington felt and still feels today.
It has been an incredible exposure of strength that both families have shown in the aftermath of the terrorist attack which has shaped the history of Warrington. Not only is The Peace Centre a landmark in the town, but the centre for young people, is a landmark for peace in all four corners of the UK.
The Bridge Street area of the town has been transformed into a street of remembrance of the victims and the day that shook Warrington. The ‘River of Life’ which runs the length of the street recognises the history of the town but also serves as a permanent memorial to the two young victims and the dozens more who were injured.
54 people were also injured in the attack. An attack which still dominates the minds of those who were in Warrington at the time of the attack and those who live in and around Warrington today. Twenty years on, the victims are not forgotten, the process for peace continues.