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Monday 20 August 2012

Bangy's Memorial Day

On Sunday, I was asked if I could do a carving demonstration at a memorial day in St Agnes Park, Bristol. The event was to remember a local man, Evon Berry, whom everyone knew as 'Bangy'. He was the caretaker at a local community centre and was a popular and well-respected person locally.

 In 1996, Bangy and some friends were returning home after a New Year's party when they saw a taxi driver being assaulted by a group of people. Bangy and his friends tried to calm the situation down, even after he and a friend had been hit with the butt of a gun. Even as Bangy continued to try and bring peace to the disorder, one of the group grabbed him and shot him in the neck. He managed to get to a local taxi company where he died. The attacker was later caught and, for his bravery, Bangy later received the Queen's Gallantry Medal posthumously.

Even though the story is a sad one, it was nice to see how warmly his friends and family remembered Bangy, with the 'Iquater' sound system that he was involved in playing lots of classic reggae in the park and the smell of jerk chicken in the air.

The atmosphere was happy and the sun was out. With the help of local people, we carved a plaque from sweet chestnut to remember him. It shows lots of hummingbirds, which were important to Bangy and reminded him of his childhood in Jamaica. He was a keen and talented woodworker and I hope he would approve of the plaque. It has been given to his friend Constantine, who is the park keeper and can hopefully fix it somewhere suitable there in the near future.

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