Bells ring out for murdered teenager

Ellen Higginbottom
Ellen Higginbottom
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A young bell ringer who went to college with tragic student Ellen Higginbottom arranged a touching tribute to her at a historic church.

Michael Barr, who has just finished studying at Winstanley College and knew Ellen as a friend of her boyfriend Ryan Warren, arranged for a quarter peal of bells to be rung in her memory at St Wilfrid’s Church in Standish.

A man has been charged with Ellen’s murder, while three other people from Billinge have been charged with offences in connection with her death.

The 19-year-old rings the bells at the parish church along with his brother Chris and they came up with the idea for the unusual tribute, instantly gaining the support of the rest of the group.

Michael, who is from Standish and originally gained his enthusiasm for the centuries-old art of change ringing through his mum Valerie, also paid tribute to Ellen whose body was found at Orrell Water Park last month.

He said: “It’s nice to do something which not a lot of people can do.

“I was in a lot of the same classes as Ryan at college and we became quite good friends. Obviously Ellen was around a lot so I got to know her too.

“She was a really nice person. It has been a huge shock, I still can’t really get my head round it.”

Ryan was at the historic place of worship to hear the peal on Wednesday morning, which lasted around 45 minutes.

The group rung more than 1,200 changes, which is where bells swap position in the order they are chimed.

The church’s rector, Rev Canon Andrew Holliday, also spoke of Michael’s kindness in arranging the tribute.

He said: “Here we have a group of young people making a difference to other people’s lives because they actually took a moment to stand still and care in the tragic circumstances of Ellen’s death.

“It shows we can be loved and are loved and I’m just thrilled that it is one of our young bell ringers who has initiated this and the whole group has got together and are ringing for Ellen.”

The Coroner’s Office yesterday confirmed that they hope to release Ellen’s body for her funeral within the next few days.