Today marks twenty one years since Charlton youth player Pierre Bolangi died in tragic circumstances while on a pre-season training exercise carried out by the army on behalf of the club.
Pierre's old academy friends, staff and Pierre's family met up at Sparrows Lane on Sunday to mark the occasion and to see the temporary garden which will serve as a memorial to Pierre until a permanent home is established when the training ground development is finished. Jean and Richard Huelin, who tended the original garden for many years, were also present.
The day was arranged so that the family, staff and lads could talk about the events of twenty one years ago. What was clear is how emotional it is for them all and how it has affected their lives. We will all remember Pierre, but his colleagues and family were also terribly affected by that day, and still are.
However it was also a celebration of Pierre. A match was played in his memory between Pierre's former team mates, family and the staff of that time as can be seen in the picture below.
Balloons were released with messages to Pierre. Matt Baker (club Chaplain) spoke and led prayers. Kevin George -who was the driving force behind the arrangements - showed off the Pierre Bolangi Trophy which will hopefully become an annual award at the Player Of The Year dinner to an academy player who shows the same traits as Pierre - Compassion. Leadership. Resilience. Optimism.
CAST was represented at the event by Andy Buckland who said:
"It was an emotional day, but very fitting. Pierre should never, ever, be forgotten. He was never allowed the time to make his own legacy so that is something we need to do for him. A young man from our club taken so young in such tragic circumstances whilst under the club's care. "
The new garden was funded from residual funds from the protest fund which were transferred to CAST for that purpose when the protest fund was dissolved. Volunteers from the CACT walking football team worked on setting up the garden.