THE Reading rail-crash victims will be remembered this Sunday in the tiny
12th-century church near where they died.
The names of the six who died when the London-to-Plymouth train hit a
stationary car on a level crossing on Saturday night will be read out at St
Mary’s, Sulhamstead Abbots. The driver of the car, who also died, will also be
prayed for during the service.
Parishioners of St Mary and St Peter, Ufton Nervet, were first on the scene
when the derailed express ploughed in the dark into the fields beside the
The Priest-in-Charge, the Revd Peter Dewey, said on Wednesday that the
parishioners who lived in five or six houses near the level crossing rushed out
of their houses, after putting on all their lights, and called the wounded and
the dazed passengers across the fields to their homes.
"They brought them into their sitting-rooms. They said it was all mud and
blood and horror. The ambulances could not get across the fields; so they had
used their four-wheeled-drive vehicles to take the medics across and then to
bring the stretchers back," he said.
The Revd Liam Johnston, director of the Railway Mission, said that British
Transport police had alerted him on Saturday evening. One of his chaplains, the
Revd Humphrey Gillott, a Baptist, had seen the news on television, and went
straight to the site.
"He talked to a gentleman who had lost his daughter. He stayed on site all
that night," Mr Johnston, who joined him on the site with two other chaplains
from the London City Mission, said.
" Our primary concern was for the staff — there were 80 on site at any one
time — but we also prayed with the families. On Monday and Tuesday, we were
taking the families around the site to help them put their grief into some sort
The Revd Jo Loveridge lives two miles from the crash site with her husband,
Douglas, a chaplain at the Royal Berkshire Hospital.
"He was called in at about 7.30 p.m. on Saturday. I watched the breaking
news on television and realised it was very near to my parish. I went to the
Spring Inn at Ufton Nervet: people were being brought there in police cars from
the crash to be reunited with their relatives. I was able to support relatives
and pray with them. Alan Meakin, a pastor from the Countess of Huntingdon’s
Connexion, was also there, and we worked as churches together."
Mr Loveridge said that five chaplains had been called into the hospital.
"Two coaches arrived with the injured, and the A&E wards were cleared of
everything else for them. The preparation done by the doctors and nurses was
Visit: the Bishop of Reading, the Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, at the
site. PA Photo