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It’s almost 14 years since Anthony Walker was killed in a racially motivated and unprovoked attack.
He would have been 32 today, and every birthday stirs memories of what should be, instead of what is, for his loving mum Gee.
“When I think of his birthday I think that Anthony should be here enjoying it,” says Gee. “He should have been married, and he should have had a family of his own.
“I see families with children, and I wonder what it would have been like for him… for me.
“But I can’t see him growing up as a man, and I can’t imagine what he would have looked like because everything stopped when he was killed and all I can see is my 18-year-old young boy.
“And it’s hard.”
Anthony Walker was attacked as he waited at a bus stop near his home in Huyton in July 2005. After his perpetrators launched a barrage of racial abuse towards Anthony, one of them drove an ice axe into his skull.
The bright young student who had dreamed of becoming a lawyer was rushed to hospital where medics, though warning Gee to prepare for the worst, tried desperately to save him. But Anthony died five hours later.
In spite of her pain mum-of-six Gee, a woman of immense faith, immediately forgave her attackers to keep the memory of her eldest son ‘pure’, adding: “Anthony and I had such a special relationship, and hate and bitterness would detract from that and I refuse to allow it to be tainted.
“The moment it happened I knew forgiveness was the right thing to do.”
But Gee Walker didn’t just forgive his attackers. Since it happened, she has devoted much of her life to making sure no other mum would suffer like she has.
The family set up a charity, The Anthony Walker Foundation, which aims to promote racial harmony through education, sport and the arts, and promotes the celebration of diversity and personal integrity and the realisation of the potential of all young people.
Although it operates locally, regionally and nationally, the priority focus is Merseyside. On February 20 it staged an event at the Baltic Market in Liverpool, on what would have been the eve of Anthony’s 32nd birthday.
For “Remembering Anthony: Standing Up Against Hate’ bands and choirs came together in a show to support for the AWF and each other, and to speak out against hate.
Gee, a learning support tutor who helps those with learning difficulties to stay in mainstream schools, feels the time is right to remind a new generation about Anthony: what happened to him and what’s happening now.
“We are seeing a rise in hate crime and knife crime, there’s a massive increase and it’s concerning.
“One of my students came to me and said he was going to write about this boy. He said he didn’t know him but his story was interesting.
“It was Anthony and so I told him, ‘that’s my son’, and he fell apart. That’s the problem. People are attacked and it no longer shocks us, it’s just another day, another incident, another story. It’s too common an occurrence.
“When I was a child you didn’t hear about killing, and if a one-off event happened it was a huge shock, now we hear about it every day on the news and I don’t want people to be de-sensitised.
“I need to remind young people to appreciate and embrace life, and to make them realise that when a life is lost it causes devastation that doesn’t stop. It affects generation after generation of a family – one life lost affects so many others.
“Life is a gift and I want to remind people about Anthony so they realise how precious that gift is. I am reminded every single day.”
That young people don’t seem to value life hurts Gee and she says: “It makes my work harder. It makes the Foundation’s work harder.
“Sometimes I get frustrated with myself because when another life is lost, I wonder what more I can do to stop this. But, however exhausted I get, it propels me to go on to do more.
“I want young people to think… because just a moment’s hesitation could save a life. When someone survives an attack I thank God for that life saved, and I think that perhaps I’m getting through to someone. It’s a small thing, but I – we – need to keep chipping away and planting positive seeds.”
Anthony’s attack was as senseless as it was horrific.
It would be easy to understand a mother who said she couldn’t go on. But Gee has no choice.
“It doesn’t get any easier, but what else can you do?
“What happened to my son should never have happened – but it did. I can give in or I can keep his memory alive and try to change the path for others; so that what happened to Anthony serves as a lesson for others and so that his death has not been for nothing.
“I am trying to keep my promise that out of something dreadful something positive can come. That gives me hope. That means Anthony didn’t die in vain.”
By Janet Tansley, Copy Media
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