A memorial tree to Fusillier Lee Rigby will be planted close to where he was murdered in Woolwich six years ago as part of a scheme to improve the area around a council tower block.
Greenwich Council says it has reached an agreement with Fusilier Rigby’s widow Rebecca and mother Lyn for a tree to be planted with a plaque encouraging people to donate to charities in the soldier’s memory.
Fusilier Rigby was murdered by two religious extremists outside Elliston House, on Wellington Street, in May 2013. While Greenwich Council placed a memorial to him and others killed in the line of duty at St George’s Garrison Church, off Woolwich Common, there had been calls for a memorial to be placed at the site of the soldier’s murder itself.
That campaign was hijacked by the far right, leading to angry scenes at a council meeting in January 2018 with a protest against the removal of a shrine of football flags from railings outside the block. A council caretaker received death threats.
Later last year a member of the public removed a paving slab at the site and placed their own memorial to Fusilier Rigby. That, along with another unofficial memorial, will be removed and given to the Rigby family, the council says.
Work on landscaping the area around Elliston House began today and is expected to be completed by the middle of April. Details of the planned work can be seen here.
Greenwich Council leader Danny Thorpe said: “Everyone in the borough accepts and understands the need to remember Fusilier Rigby in an appropriate manner. He was murdered in the most shocking of circumstances. His family has always conducted itself with the utmost dignity and agreed to a permanent memorial being installed in the nearby St George’s Garrison Church in 2015.
“We have now agreed with the family that we need to reconsider the issue of an appropriate memorial so that Lee can finally rest in peace. It will also allow the Rigby family to continue to rebuild their lives without the regular intrusion of the media and other people using this shocking event for their own purposes.
“As part of the agreement, the council and the Rigby family have made clear that we will not support any unofficial plaques or other memorials near the site. This will help to prevent the risk of Lee’s tragic murder being used for any other cause.”