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Fund scoops £100K

PUBLISHED: 14:59 12 March 2009 | UPDATED: 10:32 23 August 2010

CHARITY fundraisers desperate to raise £600,000 for a memorial to mark the biggest civilian disaster of WWII have received a £100,000 boost. The Stairway to Heaven Memorial Trust, spearheaded by Sandra Scotting, from Hartley, is trying to raise money to

CHARITY fundraisers desperate to raise £600,000 for a memorial to mark the biggest civilian disaster of WWII have received a £100,000 boost.

The Stairway to Heaven Memorial Trust, spearheaded by Sandra Scotting, from Hartley, is trying to raise money to build a sculpture to commemorate those who died in a tragic crush at Bethnal Green tube station in 1943.

Her grandmother and two-year-old cousin were killed in the disaster and BBC's Strictly Come Dancing judge Len Goodman, from Ingress Park, Greenhithe, lost a cousin.

Last Sunday, the leader Lutfur Rahman and Mayor Muhammad Abdullah Salique of Tower Hamlets council attended an anniversary service at St John church, Bethnal Green, as reported in the Dartford and Swanley Times. They have since pledged £100,000 to the cause.

Mrs Scotting said: "We are absolutely delighted with this wonderful news and wish to thank the council members very much for this great boost to our memorial funds.

"They told us on Sunday that they wished to do more for us, but we did not expect anything quite so quickly, so this is a fantastic surprise. It will give us renewed energy to raise more money in the coming weeks. We have to pull together to make an extra special effort to see what we can do to raise the rest of the money now."

On March 3, 1943 a crowd of people were expecting an air raid and entered Bethnal Green tube station, which was used at the time as a shelter.

An anti-aircraft battery nearby fired a new type of rocket and people mistakenly thought they were being bombed by the German enemy.

Panicking, around 300 people surged down the tube steps, but there was no handrail and a woman slipped, causing the crowd to fall 'like a pack of cards' according to Mrs Scotting.

Within seconds, 173 died and over 90 were injured, making it the worst civilian disaster of WWII.

The Stairway to Heaven charity was set up two years ago by Mrs Scotting to find relatives of those who died who have not been identified, so they can put their names on the memorial.

The 61-year-old said they now have £170,000 but if they can reach £300,000, they can apply for a lottery grant to match it to make up £600,000.

She has also asked the Mayor of London Boris Johnson directly if he will make a contribution to the memorial.

For more information call Derek Spicer on 07722 162 168, e-mail info@staiwaytoheavenmemorial.org or visit www.stairwaytoheavenmemorial.org.

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