Exmouth remembers 9/11 victims: town’s memorial began with a simple bunch of flowers

Exmouth will on Wednesday stand in silent tribute to those killed 18 years ago in the New York 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Firefighters, the emergency services, and public will gather at Exmouth’s Phear Park 9/11 memorial to remember those who died in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The 2019 service starts at 1.30pm on Wednesday, September 11, in front of Phear Park’s 9/11 memorial.

Exmouth pipers will begin playing at 1pm ahead of the service and will be joined by fire service buglers during the tribute.

The service will be led by the Chaplain for Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, Julie Andrews.

Prayers will be said and a minute’s silence held to remember those killed, with the 2019 service coming to a close by 2pm.

In recent years family of Steven Lawn, who died in the attack when he was working in the South Tower, have attended the Exmouth 9/11 service.

The Phear Park 9/11 memorial stone was made possible when the town’s now-retired charity champion, Lionel Howell, campaigned for a piece of metal girder from the South Tower to be brought to Exmouth and set in resin and granite as a permanent tribute.

Pensioner Lionel, of Bidmead, Littleham, who handed over the baton of organising the 9/11 service to Exmouth firefighter Dave Morley, said it ‘was lovely’ to see the town continue to remember the victims of the terrorist attack,18 years on.

While the Phear Park stone was unveiled in 2003, Lionel said Exmouth’s support for the victims and their families was immediate.

Lionel said: “The memorial started on the actual day when we heard it (9/11 attacks) on the radio.

“We rushed out and got a couple of bunches of flowers and put them on the war memorial.

“We didn’t have the 9/11 memorial then. There were two or three of us who went to the park with flowers.

“Altogether there were eight or nine people who went out to Phear Park to give five or ten minutes of their time.”

Vince Orchard, of Orchard Memorials, Exmouth, was tasked to turn Lionel’s vision for a permanent tribute into reality.

He worked ‘very closely’ with Lionel and the emergency services from Exmouth and in the USA, perfecting a design that ‘had significance and will stand the test of time’.

Vince said working on the memorial stone had been emotional when it came to handling the piece of metal girder from the South Tower.

He said a second replica monument, identical to the one in Phear Park, was made and shipped to New York.

Vince said: “Lionel had a vision and with a lot hard work, and dedication, came up with the idea of having a piece of steel from the Twin Towers placed on show inside the memorial, and also the design of the four hands – representing all the emergency services – all supporting each other.

“The piece of steel, which was blackened and had a vivid smell of smoke – this was emotional, to say the least – is embedded in a clear resin, and the service badges are all original emergency services designs – special approval being granted for their use.

“The unveiling of the memorial saw emergency crews from both New York city attending and our emergency service crews. It was very touching.”

He added: “So pleased were the New York fire crew of our design, in true New York city-style, we did the monument twice, and believe the second version is sited in a New York city fire station somewhere.”


Exmouth’s annual 9/11 service is held in front of the Phear Park memorial.
Photo with permission.

The Phear Park memorial is engraved All Ages, All Creeds, All Nationalities, All Innocent. All Gave Some, Some Gave All.

Exmouth’s 9/11 memorial stone of granite received official recognition in 2005 when a group of New York Fire Department firefighters visited the Phear Park tribute, invited by Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service firefighters.

NYFD firefighter Tim Brown, who has battled with guilt for surviving the 9/11 attacks – he was trapped in the lobby of the Marriot Hotel, which was crushed when Tower Two fell onto its roof – laid a wreath at the foot of the Phear Park memorial during the 2005 visit.


Exmouth pipers will begin playing at 1pm ahead of the service and will be joined by fire service buglers during the tribute.
Photo with permission.


Exmouth will on Wednesday, September 11, stand in silent tribute to those killed 18 years ago in the New York 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Photo with permission.


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