Fitting canalside tribute for schoolboy Robbie

A poignant mural and memorial bench have been unveiled near to a spot on the Leeds Liverpool Canal where popular schoolboy Robbie Williamson died in a tragic accident.

Monday, 12th March 2018, 10:14 am
Updated Monday, 12th March 2018, 11:30 am
Alastair Nicholson, David Parkin, Emma Fielding (back row) with Josh Masson, Troy Shaw and Robbies parents

Robbie’s parents Dean Williamson and Nicola Grimshaw attended an emotional ceremony on the canal bank at Lowerhouse, the scene where their beloved 11-year-old boy died in April 2014 after falling from a gas pipe under a bridge.

The mural, designed by artist Alastair Nicholson with suggestions from Robbie’s Shuttleworth College schoolfriends Josh Masson and Troy Shaw, features doves, roses, Robbie’s name and initials and a motorbike.

Grateful dad Dean said: “It means a lot that people can come and enjoy this place by the canal, as well as sit and remember Robbie. The mural is fantastic, Robbie loved motorbikes, so that was a nice touch.”

Robbie's parents at the mural

Cadent, the company now running the National Grid’s gas distribution, organised the event which was also attended by other relatives and representatives from the Canal and River Trust.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive into the tragedy led to a charge being made against the National Grid, which has since removed the pipe and around 2,000 others around the country.

David Parkin, from Cadent, again apologised to Robbie’s parents and said the company had been rightly prosecuted, but had learned a lot from the tragic accident.

He said: "We had no hesitation at all in helping Robbie’s family to install this bench, and in commissioning the mural that’s now beside the bridge, as a lasting memorial. This was a day to remember Robbie and we appreciated being invited to join his family and friends in doing just that.”

Robbie's parents at the mural

Mum Nicola said: “I was pleased to hear a lot more safety measures have been introduced since Robbie’s death. Hopefully, he will not have died in vain.

“The bench is lovely. I still walk down here a lot with Robbie’s brothers and our dog. It’s nice that we’ve got somewhere to sit and remember Robbie.”

Emma Fielding, Brightwork project officer for The Canal and Rivers Trust, said it sourced oak from renewable forests to make the bench.

She said: “Our volunteers will be planting flowers around the bench throughout the year and maintaining the site.”