Memorial garden to murdered woman is opened in Bangor

‘Forever in our hearts, you will never be forgotten’ is just one of the poignant tributes shared at murdered Bangor woman Lisa Dorrian’s ‘Garden For Thoughts’. A series of moving messages from friends and loved ones have been engraved on plaques at the newly completed memorial garden in Bangor’s Castle Park. As well as new benches, paving and flower arrangements, a tree has also been planted in memory of Lisa’s devoted mother Patricia, mirroring Lisa’s memorial tree. Lisa’s mother sadly died before the body of her 25 year-old daughter could be found and brought home to the Dorrian family, after she went missing from a Ballyhalbert caravan park in 2005. Seventeen years on and her family have campaigned tirelessly for justice and for the return of Lisa’s body. Despite over 400 police searches and public appeals, her body has not been found and no-one has been brought to justice. The 17th anniversary of Lisa’s disappearance was marked on February 28 and police now believe that only one or two people hold the answers to the location of Lisa’s body. With Lisa’s family unable to give her a Christian burial and lay her to rest with her mother, her friends were determined to provide a memorial space for Lisa’s loved ones to come and remember her. Friends Jonny Donnelly and Mark Brown enlisted the support of a host of local people who undertook a range of fundraising events to transform the memorial bench area. From sponsored cycles, to charity runs and a ballot, the friends were overwhelmed by the strength of support from members of the local community, who freely gave up their time and materials to bring the garden to life. Lisa’s family including her dad John and her sisters Joanne, Michelle and Ciara were deeply touched by the outpouring of love and support when they attended the garden last Sunday. Said Joanne: “We are just really moved that after 17 years Lisa still means so much to her friends. The community has really come together to fundraise for this. I think this will make it an even more enjoyable place to come and remember Lisa and we can all come and sit down on the benches.” Said Joanne: “It is really lovely to see everyone here today, all the family and friends. We are all just remembering her on a really sunny day and that is what we want, for people to sit here and think of her.” Joanne spoke of not being able to lay her sister to rest saying: “Until we are able to find Lisa and give her a Christian burial then this is the only place we have to come and have those memories of her and think about her. “Our children are here today and they know exactly why we are here, it is for Lisa’s Garden For Thoughts and how special it is for us.” She spoke of the family’s desire for Lisa to be buried with her mum saying: “A tree has been planted for mum and whenever we do find Lisa she will be buried with mum. “So that is what the trees signify, what we want to do for Lisa and mum, the two trees are mirroring each other. It is a way of remembering them together.” Friend Jonny Donnelly praised everyone who supported their efforts to transform the memorial garden saying: “We were very pleased with the response from people. We had people completing a 100km run, Stephen Mehaffy completing a 200km cycle as well as a ballot. “We would like to thank everyone who volunteered and gave up their time and materials including Eden Developments, SM Landscaping, A1 Groundworks, Balloo Hire, Creative Gardens, JP Corry, Alan Hayes and the council staff.” The Dorrian family have taken part in a new four part BBC documentary ‘Murder in the Badlands’ that features the murders of four women in Northern Ireland: Lisa Dorrian, Inga Maria Hauser, Arlene Arkinson and Marian Beattie. The series will feature Lisa Dorrian in the first episode and begins on Monday, March 14, on BBC One at 10.35pm.