A SERVICE to “cleanse and reclaim” the shopping centre which was the scene of the Skripal poisoning has been held in Salisbury (News, 13 April).
The Revd Kelvin Inglis, the Rector of St Thomas’s, a church near to the bench where Sergei and Yulia Skripal were found, sprinkled holy water on to the Maltings shopping centre during a service on Sunday afternoon, which was attended by civic leaders from the city and county.
As well as dignitaries, which included the Mayor of Salisbury, the Chief Constable, the Lord Lieutenant, and others, local business owners and staff from Zizzi’s restaurant — which has been closed since the attack — also attended.
Mr Inglis said that the service was not just about cleansing a place which had been metaphorically and literally contaminated, but also an attempt to kick-start the recovery of the city of Salisbury.
“This was about thanking [those responding to the attack] and about moving on. We are focusing on recovering, and Salisbury beginning to present itself as it always has been,” he said on Tuesday.
“Afterwards, everyone was saying ‘This is what we needed.’ This was about drawing a line: not about Salisbury struggling, but about Salisbury determined to go on. The Bishop [the Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam] said: ‘Don’t waste a crisis.’ The crisis gives us an opportunity to think about who we are, and what we are about.”
The city was determined not to become a byword for what had happened, in the same way that Hungerford was for ever associated with the mass shooting in 1987, Mr Inglis said. “We want people to think of Salisbury and the beauty of the place: the commerce, its beautiful cathedral spire, and the decency of its people.” The service was deliberately full of laughter and joy, not just sadness, he said.
“We also did some Russian music with the choir: the Lord’s Prayer by Rimsky-Korsakov. This isn’t about nations falling out, but a single criminal act.”
A government clean-up to remove any residuary traces of the nerve agent began on Tuesday.