Friday, 4 November 2011

Genette back in the headlines

RENEWED interest this week in the death of Genette Tate, the 13-year-old Aylesbeare paper girl who went missing 33 years ago.

Her bicycle and scattered copies of the Express & Echo were found in a lane in Aylesbeare a few minutes after she had been talking with friends.

About 7,000 volunteers joined police to search Aylesbeare Common while ponds and wells within a 150 mile radius were dredged. But her body was never found.

I was editing the Sidmouth Herald at the time and was one of the 7,000 volunteers who joined in the search.

On that afternoon of August 19th 1978 I was playing cricket at Uplyme. The Herald owner, former Fleet Street hack Jimmy Hall, phoned the Talbot Arms to track me down. I left the game and went straight to Aylesbeare where I was met by one of the Herald reporters, David Johnson, who went on to make a career for himself in local radio. At the time, it was one of the biggest stories we had covered and the Genette Tate affair dominated our columns for many months.

The mystery of Genette’s death has returned to the media spotlight this week following the conviction of child killer Robert Black, for murdering nine-year-old Jennifer Cardy in County Antrim 30 years ago.

Devon and Cornwall Police have questioned Black several times over Genette’s disappearance, but he has denied any involveent.

The police are now reviewing the evidence presented at Black’s trial to see if it will help in solving Genette’s disappearamce.

Over the years Genette’s father has appealed to Black to confess that he did murder his daughter. Now in a wheelchair and suffering from terminal cancer, John Tate is seeking a meeting with Black.

Mr Tate now lives in Manchester but for years returned to Aylesbeare on the anniversary of her disappearance to lay flowers on a memorial stone to Genette in the village church. It’s a tragic case.

I remember spending a great deal of time in Aylesbeare that August and can well recall the significant effect it had on villagers.

John Tate himself was under suspicion at one time and I remember attending a press comference that was held in the Aylesbeare cottage where the Tate family lived. I wrote a colour piece for the Herald, large swathes of which were later published by John Tate in a book he wrote on his daughter’s disappearance.

John Tate says he does not have long to live and wants to see Genette’s memory laid to rest before his death.

We can only hope his wishes are granted.

Why the Legion needs your support

OLD soliders will be polishing their medals over the next few days. Young men back in civvy street having served Queen and country will be snapping to attention once more. Royal British Legion members will be standing on windy street corners selling their poppies.

This will be happening in virtually every city, town and village up and down the UK as Remembrance Day approaches.

Legion branches throughout East Devon will be much to the fore between now and November 13th (Remembrance Day) helping their organisation to celebrate its 90th anniversary and attempting to beat last year’s £36 million raised.

Although it is now 66 years since the cessation of hostilities in World War Two, the work of the Royal British Legion has never been more important.

Our brave Armed Forces are putting their lives on the line every day in far off places with strange sounding names and it’s a sobering thought that there has only been one year - 1968 - when a British serviceman has not been killled on active duty since the end of WW2.

Every week the Legion spends £1.4 million helping those whose lives have been affected by conflict.

That’s why they need your support...

I PROMISE this is the last time I will mention our first birthday party but if there are any of you out there in Weekender land who would like to see what went on, you can view a short video which is currently showing on our website. It was filmed and edited by reporter/sub-editor Lisa Bright, who has experience of working in TV. All you have to do is click onto and follow the link on the home page.

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