Mother of soldier Lee Rigby will ‘never forgive’ killers

Fusilier Lee Rigby, 25, was murdered in Woolwich in May, 2013
Fusilier Lee Rigby, 25, was murdered in Woolwich in May, 2013

The mother of murdered soldier Lee Rigby has said she will never forgive the two Islamist fanatics who killed him.

Fusilier Rigby’s murder sparked shock across the country after he was run over with a car and then hacked to death by British Muslim converts Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale in Woolwich, south-east London, on May 22 last year.

The soldier married Halifax girl Rebecca Metcalfe at St Anne’s Church, Southowram, in October 2007.

Speaking a year after her 25-year-old son’s death, Lyn Rigby said: “I will never forgive them for what they did to Lee. Never.”

She felt justice was done after Adebolajo was told he will spend the rest of his life behind bars while Adebowale was given a minimum jail term of 45 years for the attack.

“I know that they won’t get out now,” she said. “They cannot do this to another family.”

Mrs Rigby explained how she has found it difficult to cope with Lee’s murder.

“It’s hard to get up in the mornings, just to put one foot in front of the other,” she said.

She recalled how she attended the Old Bailey trial of her son’s killers to see what emotions they felt.

“I just really wanted to look in their eyes and see if they showed any remorse. I got nothing.

“There were a couple of times I couldn’t go. They talked about Lee’s injuries in very raw details and I couldn’t sit through that,” she said.

Mrs Rigby went on to describe the type of memorial she thinks should be built for her son in Woolwich.

“I don’t want him to be forgotten,” she said. “I think a plaque or some fitting tribute for where Lee died.”

There has been disagreement over whether he should be given a memorial in the town where he was killed.

Thousands of supporters have backed calls for the soldier to be given a permanent remembrance site in Woolwich but the local authority and MP Nick Raynsford have rejected the campaign.

Mr Raynsford said: ‘’The determination of the community in Woolwich to resist the attempts of some groups who sought to use Lee Rigby’s murder as a pretext for stirring up conflict between people from different backgrounds was very impressive.

“They also made clear their wish for normal behaviour to resume as soon as possible, to avoid the shadow of the horrific murder on 22nd May 2013 hanging over the area indefinitely.”

Mrs Rigby remembered her son as a “precious” person.

“He was quite a bubbly lad, he was larger than life. He was always smiling, making people laugh, always there helping other people,” she said.

“He was so fun loving and he told me how much he always loved me. He was so precious.”

The father-of-one, who had served in Afghanistan, was stationed in Woolwich working as a recruitment officer when he died, and also performed duties at his regiment’s headquarters at the Tower of London.

His mother watched the initial television news reports that a soldier had been attacked and “instantly thought it may be Lee”, she added.

Bikers from across the UK and abroad, including current and former British military personnel, will gather in Greenwich today before travelling to Woolwich Barracks, where Fusilier Rigby was stationed, for a memorial service.

It will be led by the Rector of Woolwich, Reverend Jesse van der Valk, and will include a message written by Mrs Rigby.

Organiser Julia Stevenson, who will read Mrs Rigby’s words, said: “The Lee Rigby ride is about a single soldier, brutally cut down not on the battlefield but on the streets of London.

“In the act of riding through Woolwich on the anniversary of his death we are expressing the admiration and respect we all share for our armed forces.

“As we ride we will remember Lee, and our thoughts will be for his family at this difficult time, and his regiment. We will proudly represent a nation who was moved by this tragedy by riding as one.”

A lead group of bikers plan to ride from Greenwich Park, past the scene of the murder and up to the barracks’ parade ground, from where they will march to the main gates, where the ceremony will be held.

The rest of the bikers will ride past the barracks as the memorial takes place.

Mr van der Valk is expected to say: “Let us dedicate ourselves to always remember our friend and brother and loved one and soldier, Drummer Lee Rigby, whose life was cruelly taken away in this place in the service of his country.”

A wreath will be laid and the Last Post played, and a group of Sikh drummers will perform.

Supporters are expected to travel from around the UK as well as Germany, Belgium and France. No official event is planned at the barracks, or on behalf of the Ministry of Defence.

Mr van der Valk said: “A year ago people were totally shocked, angry and upset about what had happened and obviously they wanted justice to take its course, which it has done.

“Today will be remembering Lee Rigby himself. Lee Rigby was a young person, he was a member of the armed services, but what happened to him seemed random.

“We want to celebrate and give thanks for his life and show that Lee Rigby will not be forgotten and what happened to him won’t be forgotten.

“It’s an opportunity for us to stand alongside Lee Rigby and the other members of the armed services, and his family and friends.”

The clergyman said he was “disappointed” that the three women who confronted Fusilier Rigby’s killers, dubbed the Angels of Woolwich, had not received George Medals for their bravery.

“People who acted positively on the day and with courage and compassion for Lee Rigby should be recognised,” the community leader said.