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Alan Henning anniversary: Eccles covered in yellow ribbons one year after ISIS murder


Family and friends of murdered Eccles taxi driver turned aid worker Alan Henning have covered Eccles town centre with new yellow ribbons as the one-year anniversary of his death approaches.

The ribbons first appeared in September last year, after news of his abduction at the hands of Isis filtered through to the media.

47-year-old Alan, known as Gadget to his friends, was publicly and brutally murdered at the hands of his terrorist captors on 3 October 2014.

He had been abducted nine months earlier by self-proclaimed Islamic State militants while on his fourth volunteer aid mission to Syria.

Watch: Hundreds pack Eccles Town Hall in community vigil for Alan Henning

Watch: Candlelit vigil for Alan Henning in Eccles park

“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,” his widow Barbara explained at the time.

At a November 2014 memorial at St Mary’s Church in Eccles Barbara spoke of how their children Lucy and Adam understood why their father had to go back to Syria: “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.”

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On Saturday 3 October 2015, one year on, the public are being invited to lay flowers and tributes of their own at the Eccles Cross, a stone memorial in the centre of the town which has become a focal point for memorials to the much-loved father of two.

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In tribute, Salford City Council will also lower the flag at Swinton Civic Centre to half-mast on Saturday in his memory.

The Henning family, including Barbara, Adam and Lucy, will attend a private memorial at St Mary’s Church in Eccles on Saturday morning.

New of Alan’s killing at the hands of so-called Islamic State extremist militants filtered through the world’s media on Friday 3 October 2014.

His captors posted a graphic and brutal video showing the murder on social media.

The barbaric act was immediately condemned by Prime Minister David Cameron, US President Barack Obama and world leaders across the globe.

His suspected killer Mohammed Emwasi, the UK-born figurehead of Islamic State, dubbed ‘Jihadi John’, is still at large and is one of the world’s most wanted men.

Alan was the fourth UK hostage to be publicly murdered by the terrorist group, after aid worker David Haines and American journalists Jim Foley and Steven Sotloff.

The 47-year-old, had left his job as a taxi driver and travelled to the country at least four times on aid runs, bringing vital food and medicine to children and families ripped apart by civil war.

This week, ahead of the one-year commemmoration of his death, the Henning family and friends have started to tie up yellow ribbons on lampposts, trees and signs throughout Eccles.

The tribute, which began in America as a way to remember missing people, is recognised as a symbol of Alan’s nine month captivity in horrendous conditions before his terrible killing.

Thousands of people visited the town in the days, weeks and months after the killing to lay teddy bears, handwritten notes, flowers and postcards as a mark of respect.

On Monday 20 October 2014, thousands of local people flooded onto the streets to cheer along a 400-strong taxi convoy through Eccles.

Watch: Salford taxi convoy for Alan Henning

And in November 2014 shocked residents reported how Prince Harry, flanked by security, got out of a black 4×4 to add his own Royal tribute to Alan when on an official visit to Eccles.

The Prince quietly laid a bunch of lillies at the base of the Cross.

People from across the UK and worldwide joined a fundraising drive to support his children, with Barbara vowing to SalfordOnline.com that the donations would be kept in a trust fund until Adam and Lucy were 21, and used in a way that would honour their father’s memory.

Read: Lucy and Adam ‘will make dad proud’ with charity cash, vows mum

A pre-season charity match between Salford Red Devils and Swinton Lions in February raised over £10,000, topped up to £20,000 by club owner Marwan Koukash.

A further £25,000 from a fund set up by Salford City Council and SalfordOnline.com was handed to the family in early July.

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Tom Rodgers

Tom is SalfordOnline.com's News Editor and community co-ordinator.