Goodbye Dearest Holly – Ten Years On

Agoodbye dearest hollyugust the 4th, 2002, was a day where we were still packing and getting to ready to move home. Our removal had been originally planned for the Friday before but events led to a delay of a few days and we were due to move on the 7th August 2002.

Little did we know that on the very same day we were packing to start a new life in our new home with eagerness and excitement, two families were about to have their families lives torn apart and changed forever.

What was to soon be a joyous moment for my family, was the start of a nightmare for two families living in Soham, a nightmare that no parent ever wants to live through… their child going missing.

The story gripped the nation as we all prayed that these two little girls would be found alive and reunited with their parents… we can remember the broadcasts on our TV’s from Soham… And we can all remember those interviews given by Ian Huntley himself..

As days passed, and still no news, all the families had was hope, hope that somewhere out there their daughters were still alive.  Fate dealt the most horrendous blow that could ever be imagined.. their hopes of a happy outcome abruptly ending on the 17th August 2002 when the bodies of Holly and Jessica were found.  Every hope they had now became a stark reality that they will never have their daughter’s back home with them.

I have just read the book written by Kevin Wells called Goodbye Dearest Holly – Ten Years On.  Kevin wrote his original book back in 2005.  I never managed to read it.. to be perfectly honest I was scared to.. I don’t think I felt strong enough emotionally to read about the ordeal of a family who have had their beloved daughter murdered.

I can remember reading the transcripts from the Court that were on Sky News and the thought of these two children and the ordeal they must have gone through.. broke my heart.

Yesterday I decided, after recommendations by an online friend, to read this story.. First of all I was still apprehensive as to what I might read.  I had previously read Madeleine by Kate McCann and my heart broke to think of what this poor mother and father went through… the thought of their daughter being violated in the most horrendous way.. The guilt they felt and the candidness with which Kate McCann wrote her book… it was from the heart.

The details of trial and the forensic reports that were transcribed on our screens back in November 2003, live from the Old Bailey, left nothing to the imagination..  it was hard to read and it was hard to comprehend how anyone could do these vile acts to innocent children.

Ten years on and I have finally read Kevin Wells’ book.  I am glad I did.. You see I worked for the Police and only saw things from a police perspective, little did I realise the impact it had on the families.  I was not frontline policing I was the person who assembled the files of evidence to pass onto the Crown Prosecution Service..

Never before did I imagine the impact crimes had on families, especially when the trial went from Investigation to Trial.. Families were kept out of the loop and even though they had the support of Family Liaison Officers, the Police could not jeopardise the trial and therefore information was not forthcoming … Kevin Wells speaks of his frustration at this and how he felt let down by the system and how the criminals seemed to have far more rights than the victims of crime.

Life for the families of those two little girls will never be the same.. nothing can take away the pain they feel inside.  Nothing can ease the burden of how alone they felt at times, especially, during the trial phase.. when they were kept in the dark about what was happening in the investigation.

Kevin Wells tells you his fears, his frustrations and how it affected his family and how his life would never be the same, ever again.  He speaks of his desire to want to hurt Huntley and how his wife begged him not to do anything rash.  Thank god Nicola was strong enough to stop Kevin from doing what any parent would have wanted to do to the person the Police thought harmed your child.

As I read through the book, the similarities to many cases emerges.. the hate mail.. the lunatics.. the mediums.. There you are in the territory where there are no right answers, facing the most awful of situations imaginable, when the worst of human nature is unleashed on you…   The accusations… the phone calls, the nasty letters blaming you for what happened.

Kevin’s book is gripping, believe me.. I just couldn’t put it down..  Last night was one of those nights of I couldn’t sleep.. it wasn’t anything to do with what I had read, it was just the aches in my hands, neck and shoulders.. so instead of lying there in agony, trying not to disturb the better half, I stayed downstairs and put my head in this book.. eventually the pain killers kicked in and I was able to sleep.. Unfortunately the painkillers lasted only a few hours and the aches returned… but my aches and pains can’t be compared to what these families went through..  Mine are physical pains, take the painkillers the symptoms reside.. for the Wells and Chapman Families nothing will take that longing to hold their daughters one more time..

I would highly recommend Kevin Wells’ book… as a must read.. it is compelling and gripping yet heartbreaking, all at the same time… the frustrations, the setbacks, the glimmers of hope that are raised and then quickly dashed.. are there for all to read..

A family who through no fault of their own, are thrust into the media spotlight in such sad and tragic circumstances..

People in such circumstances can only offer families words of comfort and say, time is a healer. I would like to conclude this post with a quote from the book when Kevin questions whether time is a healer, he states:

 I have been asked this question over the last 10 years more than any other, and people genuinely mean well when they enquire. Well the answer is no. It is categorically no. Moreover, time will never be a healer. Any suggestion that there is a day, week, month or year ahead where everything is simply forgotten and the sun shines just a little bit brighter thereafter should be tossed to one side with the contempt it deserves. Time lessens the acuteness of effects such as despair, confusion, anger and loss. Time allows you a little bit more understanding of the emotional roller coaster that comes along with grieving. In simple terms, time is an anaesthetic.

Kevin is right.. time doesn’t heal.. it just numbs the pain and you learn to live with it..  This book is written from the heart.. from the heart of a father who at times felt he let his daughter down and couldn’t protect her.. a father who at times found comfort in a bottle of Scotch but was also determined not to let the loss of his daughter tear their family apart even further…  Highly recommended.


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