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Pupils release balloons in memory of Sheppey Crossing crash victim Marshall Roberts

By Chloe Holmwood

Eight-year-old Marshall Roberts and his mother Deborah, 42, of Granville Road, Sheerness, died when their broken down car was hit by a van on the mainland-bound carriageway on July 1, 2014.

More than 20 youngsters and teachers gathered at Rose Street Primary School, Sheerness, at 1.30pm last Friday as multi-coloured balloons were released into the sky.

Marshall Roberts.

Marshall Roberts.

Caroline Bean, the school’s administration assistant, said her son Juve, 11, had come up with the idea.

She said: “Marshall was in Year 3 when he died, but now he would have been in Year 6 and he and his friends would have all been getting ready to move on to their next school year together.

“Juve never stops thinking about Marshall really and, especially at this time in his life, he knows he would have been moving on with him.

Caroline Bean.

Caroline Bean.

“That’s why he wanted to do something in his memory.

“He and Marshall’s other friends then came up with the idea to buy balloons and write personal messages to tie on to them.”

She added: “Marshall was an absolutely lovely little boy.

Pupils Nojus (left) and Juve (right) with their balloons.

Pupils Nojus (left) and Juve (right) with their balloons.

“He is missed so much by everyone here, he really is.”

Emma Tweed, Deborah’s sister and aunt to Marshall, was at the memorial with her son, Joe. Afterwards, she said: “When I got the phone call from the school saying they wanted to do this, I felt very humbled and honoured because they still remember my sister and nephew.”

Pupils at Rose Street Primary School in Sheerness released balloons and messages in memory of school friend Marshall Roberts.

Pupils at Rose Street Primary School in Sheerness released balloons and messages in memory of school friend Marshall Roberts.

The 42-year-old, who lives in Sittingbourne, added: “I thought the memorial was absolutely lovely and I think Marshall would have loved it, especially when a couple of the balloons didn’t rise up. He would have laughed his head off.”

On the anniversary of their deaths, Miss Tweed said: “I still can’t believe they’ve been gone three years already.

“It’s still so hard for us. We miss them every day of our lives.”

Deborah Roberts who was killed on the Sheppey Crossing in July 2014.

Deborah Roberts who was killed on the Sheppey Crossing in July 2014.

A year after Marshall and Deborah died Highways England imposed a 50mph maximum on the bridge.

The move had been recommended at an inquest into their deaths, but in March the limit went back up to 70mph, with speed cameras, after a 17-month safety review of the crossing.

Miss Tweed believes this is wrong. “I hate the speed being at 70mph because I do think that’s too fast,” she said.

“But I am glad the speed cameras are up and now working and the fact they’ve already caught so many speeding drivers is a good thing.”

Marshall Roberts' aunt Emma Tweed and cousin Joe Tweed-Shoveller.

Marshall Roberts' aunt Emma Tweed and cousin Joe Tweed-Shoveller.

However, the mother-of-two thinks more still needs to be done.

“The speed cameras help, but I think the crossing needs warning signs too so that if there is an accident or broken down car on the bridge, drivers are more aware before they’re right on top of it.”

The average speed cameras on the approaches to the Sheppey Crossing are part of a £350,000 scheme.

There are plans to install variable message signs on the bridge, as well as a weather station to monitor wind and fog, and more CCTV coverage.

Once these are added, the bill is expected to hit around £2 million.

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