The American-born Mayor of Darlington will attend a memorial service next month marking the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States.
Councillor Cyndi Hughes will join the congregation at Holy Trinity Church, Woodland Road, on Sunday 12 September, to remember the victims.
Nearly 3,000 people were killed in targeted attacks on the twin towers of World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington D.C. A fourth hijacked plane, possibly aimed at the White House, crashed in Pennsylvania killing all on board.
Representatives of Darlington’s fire, police and ambulance services have been invited to commemorate the 340 rescue workers who perished in Manhattan while attempting to save lives.
The service will acknowledge the often dangerous work of first responders with a paramedic speaking about some of the serious incidents they are called to deal with in and around the town.
Rev James Harvey, priest-in-charge at Holy Trinity, said: “As thousands were running away from the disaster, hundreds of emergency workers were heading towards it; on this anniversary we want to honour all emergency workers (past and present) who head towards danger.”
At the time of the atrocity, Cllr Hughes, a former resident of New York City, had been living in Darlington for over a decade but remained in close contact with friends and colleagues in Manhattan where she had attended Columbia University.
Recounting the day, Cllr Hughes said: “Some were working in the vicinity of the World Trade Center. My best friend from childhood was meant to be lecturing at the Borough of Manhattan Community College that day, just near to the Twin Towers.
“The main hall of the college was heavily damaged from the collapse and she was uncontactable for a number of hours following the attack. It was horrible not knowing if she was okay or not. Thankfully, Lori was safe, but sadly, others were not so fortunate.”
A young Darlington couple, Rachel Ward and James Winter, shared an apartment near the towers which collapsed in an inferno of flames within hours of being hit. Before the era of mobile phones, their families back home had a long anxious wait for a call learning they were safe.
Rev Harvey said: “We would love to connect with any family members of Rachel and James and include them in our memorial, so if you know of them, please do get in touch.”
The couple attended Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College whose students have been invited to produce some artwork for the community-wide service.
Children who attend Holy Trinity’s Messy Church sessions will also make items for the service which begins at 9.30am on Sunday 12 September. Everyone and anyone is welcome to the service as we pay our respects both past and present to those who risk their lives.