Memorial for aid worker Henning

Published: Saturday 22nd November 2014 by The News Editor

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A memorial service will take place today for British aid worker Alan Henning, who was murdered by Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria.

Mr Henning’s family and friends will gather for a private service at Eccles Parish Church in Eccles, Greater Manchester, after which they will unveil a memorial stone in his honour.

The 47-year-old taxi driver was captured in December while delivering food and supplies to Syrian refugees.

A video showing his beheading by IS fighters was released on the internet on October 3 just weeks after footage emerged showing the murder of fellow British aid worker David Haines.

Ahead of today’s service, Mr Henning’s widow Barbara said the family had been devastated by the “senseless act of barbarity” and that his children, Lucy and Adam, may never come to comprehend the death of their “loving, funny and amazing dad”.

She said: “Alan was a peaceful, selfless man who left his family in the UK at Christmas 2013 to drive in a convoy all the way to Syria with his Muslim colleagues and friends to help those most in need. We, as a family, are extremely proud of him.

“Lucy and Adam understood why he had to go, he had explained to them how he had seen children with nothing, living in tents and queuing for food and water, and how much harder it was for them in the middle of winter.

“Some of these children had lost their entire families, killed by their own country’s leadership.

“On behalf of the entire family, I want to thank everyone who campaigned for Alan’s release, who held vigils to pray for his safe return and who condemned those who took him.

“Your efforts were a great support to us and we take comfort in knowing how many people stood beside us in hoping for the best.”

Mrs Henning also condemned his killers for using the banner of religion as an excuse to carry out their despicable crimes.

She said: “These people are hiding behind a peaceful religion to carry out their crimes against humanity.

“We know this because we have seen the outcry from Muslims across the globe, condemning their behaviour.

“I only hope that we can bring these people to justice or that they receive the justice they deserve in the next life. No god would ever condone the killing of innocent people.”

Mr Henning’s murder is thought to have been at the hands of “Jihadi John”, an IS fighter who speaks with a London accent and who is apparently responsible for four other hostage killings – that of Mr Haines, US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and, in footage released at the weekend, US aid worker Peter Kassig.

A previous memorial ceremony to Mr Henning was held last month at the British Muslim Heritage Centre in Manchester and was attended by faith and political leaders. Funds set up in his memory have raised more than £30,000.

Prime Minister David Cameron has also said he will consider recognising Mr Henning with a national honour following a request from his local MP, Labour’s Barbara Keeley.

Last month Mrs Henning and her children travelled to Scotland to join the family of Mr Haines for his memorial service.

At the time, she said the two families had been through “the same torment” and in a joint letter published in the Guardian newspaper they called on people to come together to defeat the terrorists.

Published: Saturday 22nd November 2014 by The News Editor

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