Radio presenter pays beautiful on-air tribute to Joe Ritchie-Bennett, one of the gay men killed in the Reading terror attack
A BBC Radio presenter has delivered a heartfelt tribute to Joe Ritchie-Bennett, one of the three men killed in the Reading terror attack last weekend.
James Furlong, Joe Ritchie-Bennett and David Wails tragically lost their lives on June 20, stabbed to death as they sat together in a park.
BBC Radio Berkshire presenter Sarah Walker gave a powerful on-air tribute to Ritchie-Bennett, who she described as “outrageously funny”.
“I wanted to start this afternoon by talking about my friend Joe,” Walker said.
BBC Radio presenter said Reading terror attack victim Joe Ritchie-Bennett made her feel ‘safe and loved’.
“Now Joe was a fantastic human being. He was outrageously funny. He was one of those unique people who on one hand could make you properly belly laugh, but at the same time he could show you such extraordinary kindness – the kind that makes you feel safe and loved.
“He was quick, he was sarcastic, he was dry, and last night I read some of his Facebook posts and they left me crying with laughter,” she said.
Walker said she became friends with Ritchie-Bennett through his husband Ian, who tragically died from colon cancer six years ago.
“They were completely devoted to each other, and I remember sitting in a hospital room with them both after Ian was told that his cancer was terminal.
He was loved by so many people and he made us all feel that life was a much better place with him in it.
“Ian said to me: ‘How can I ever leave Joe?’ Because Joe was the kind of person who you wouldn’t want to be without.
“Now, the only comfort that I get, and I’m sure his friends and family get, is that they now get to finally be together,” she said.
The radio presenter reflected on Ian’s funeral, and said Joe delivered a powerful eulogy “because it mattered so much to him that people heard what a brilliant person” his husband was.
She told listeners that Ritchie-Bennett had lived “a great life”.
“He was loved by so many people and he made us all feel that life was a much better place with him in it.”
The deaths have sent shockwaves through the LGBT+ community.
The people of Reading were left reeling after reports emerged over the weekend that three men had been murdered in a terrorist attack in a public park.
The victims’ names were released yesterday. Furlong was a school teacher who was described by friends as a “proud gay man” who “wanted equality for all”, while Wails was a scientist who always “made people smile”.
The deaths sent shockwaves through the LGBT+ community in Reading and across the UK, as various groups and organisations expressed their sympathy and solidarity.
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Ritchie-Bennett’s father, Robert Ritchie, called the Reading attack “senseless” in an interview with CBS News.
“The family is heartbroken they have lost their brilliant and loving son,” added Ritchie senior, a retired police chief.
Police arrested a suspect, Khairi Saadallah, 25, immediately after the attack.
The atrocity is being treated as a terrorist incident, though investigators have not ruled out any motive.