Hundreds of people living in Bristol have gathered together, with those in the community of St George’s Park where Becky Watts lived, for a balloon release in her memory. Members of the public joined family and friends to release hundreds of colourful helium filled balloons into the air in a display of support to those affected by the recent events. The nearby St Ambrose church was kept open to allow people the opportunity to sign a book of condolence in Becky’s memory.
The wide search for the 16 year old began a day after she was last seen on February 19 and involved a large-scale police investigation into her whereabouts. The investigation led to the discovery of her remains and the charge of her stepbrother. Four men and two women, including his girlfriend, have been charged with aiding an offender. As the case is ongoing and there are few established details, it may be productive to prevent speculation about the case within the media. Becky Watts’ stepbrother, Nathan Matthews, may face his trial in the autumn, with the others expected to have an initial review later this month.
The showing of support for Becky is important due to the showing of solidarity of those who may be directly affected, and also those living in the surrounding area who want to show unity in the circumstances. The judicial system aims to resolve the legal aspects of the situation although those affected such as Becky’s family, friends and community may find some relief in joining together at a challenging time. Communities may be defined by the strength and unity shown in challenging times and Bristol has exhibited empathy for those in the aftermath.
Nearby, the balloon ceremony at St Ambrose church has seen more than 500 visitors offering words of support for Becky’s family since the news of her discovery, according to Reverend David James. The balloon ceremony’s organiser, Bonnie Badman, said, “it was great to light up the grey sky in memory of Rebecca.” Regarding the ceremony, John Galsworthy, Becky’s grandfather, said that, “it was absolutely wonderful. There are about 300 people here, maybe more.” He also stated “as a family we’re just trying to take each day as it comes and support each other.” Ceremonies such as these offer the opportunity for the wider community to pay their respects and display support to all of those affected by the events through a showing of solidarity.
It seems that the recent events have affected large numbers of people in the community, as may be expected, and the expression of support appears to be an example of the humanity of the people there. Signals of support, such as the establishment of a fund to pay for Becky’s funeral surpassing £7000 and floral tributes, may be seen as offerings of condolence from the wider public to her family. The importance of the support of the public may symbolise the strength and solidarity that challenging times can evoke within communities. Equally, in an increasingly digital age it is poignant to see the unity and sympathy amongst people during challenging times and the showing of support offered by the community. The recent events have shown the way in which people are able to group together to help each other get through emotive circumstances. The showing of unity may display the ways in which empathy is able to bring people together in the most challenging times, to attempt to comfort each other through expressions of support. John Galsworthy summarised the ceremony aptly when he said, “Becky has touched the heart of the world, we’ve had condolences from all around the world, she has brought the community together.”
How may the events leading to Becky Watts’ passing help prevent similar future cases?