Stoke & Staffordshire

The Lollipop Express 1964 crash victims remembered

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Media captionA tree planting at St Austin's Catholic Primary followed the Mass

Hundreds of people attended a Mass to mark the 50th anniversary of a fatal rail crash, when a train carrying more than 230 schoolchildren derailed.

Two children and a British Rail representative died and dozens were hurt when the train crashed at Cheadle Hulme, Cheshire, on 28 May 1964.

Pupils from four schools in Stafford had been bound for York for a day trip.

Relatives of victims attended the Mass at St Austin's Catholic Church in Stafford earlier.

An inquiry found the nine-carriage train derailed while travelling at 40mph in a 10mph zone, on a bend through Cheadle Hulme station.

Image caption Hundreds of people attended the Mass
Image caption Vincent Stevens, seen with wife Jackie, 52, travelled from Belgium
Image copyright Rex Features
Image caption The train was found to have been travelling at 40mph in a 10mph zone through the station

Pupils had been bound for a day trip to visit the Minster, castle and the railway museum.

Children Louis Stevens and Christine Heffernan were killed on the special service, dubbed the Lollipop Express, while the British Rail representative who died had helped to organise the trip.

Tom and John Heffernan, Christine's brothers, were among those to attend the Mass.

Tom Heffernan, 57, was seven when he learned of his sister's death.

He said: "My mum and dad received amazing support from the community afterwards.

"I thought the Mass was fantastic but of course the reason so many have come together is sad."

John Heffernan, 52, said St Austin's school, which organised the Mass, had done well.

He added: "It's great the way the school have chosen to remember it."

Vincent Stevens, brother of Louis, travelled from where he now lives in Belgium for the service.

Mr Stevens, 56, added: "I remember Louis as being very clever - an example. He was a smiling, happy boy.

"I will never forget the police coming to our house to tell my parents."

Image caption Tom Heffernan was seven when he learned of his sister's death
Image caption John Heffernan, seen with his daughter Rebecca, 19, praised St Austin's school

Children from St Austin's, Yarnfield County Primary, Cooper Perry County Primary and Gnosall County Primary schools were heading to York.

Nine-year-old John Gibson, from the St Austin's school, one of 27 children left in hospital by the crash, had his left arm amputated. A girl lost her leg.

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