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Birmingham memorial to mark tragic death of teen girls

TEN YEAR MEMORIAL: Letisha Shakespeare (top) and Charlene Ellis at the New Year’s Day party in 2003

THE TENTH anniversary of the murders of two Birmingham teenagers will be marked by a special event next year.

An evening planned to remember Letisha Shakespeare and Charlene Ellis will be one of both reflection and celebration. Around 250 guests are expected to attend the occasion at the Holte Suite at Aston Villa Football Club on Friday, January 11, 2013.

It has been organised by the Letisha and Charlene Education Awards scheme, a registered charity which aims to provide help for students struggling to achieve their career goals. The event will also award Netbook computers to young people.

Since being set up in 2006, the project, administered by Birmingham and Black Country Community Foundation (BBCCF) and backed by the Birmingham Mail, has helped over 80 local people.

They have received Netbook computers and cash awards totalling £100,000.

Letisha Shakespeare and Charlene Ellis were killed in a drive-by shooting at a New Year’s Day party in Aston in 2003. They were the innocent victims of gang violence in a crime which shocked the nation. Five men were later jailed for life for the murders.

DIFFICULT

In a joint statement, Bev Thomas and Marcia Shakespeare, the mothers of Charlene and Letisha, said: “The turn of every year is a very difficult time for us and our families. We miss both girls terribly and this will never change.

“As next year marks the tenth anniversary we thought it was right to mark the occasion appropriately. Out of the tragic deaths of our daughters, many positive things have happened.”

The mothers of the slain teens emphasised that “we are particularly pleased that, thanks to the awards scheme, a large number of young people have benefited and been helped in their studies and given opportunities which would otherwise have been denied them.”

They added: “We hope that all our award winners will remember the girls and keep their memories alive for the right reasons.”

Several organisations, including Birmingham City Council, Aston Villa FC and Service Birmingham are supporting the commemorative event. Civic dignitaries will join an invited audience for the occasion.

SUPPORT

Bev and Marcia expressed their appreciation to the many people and organisation which have supported their charity. They said: “Without them, and the help of a large number of organisations and people over the years, we would not be able to run the scheme.”

The event will include a meal along with music and dance featuring local students. A large number of award winners are expected to attend.

So, if you need a computer to help with your studies, can the LCEA help?

In their statement the two mothers explained: “We know that financially for students things seem tighter than ever. These awards are not just for clever, high-flyers, they are for everyone, so if a Netbook would help you, we hope you will apply.”

The deadline for applications is Friday, November 16.

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