A poignant surprise was waiting when a grieving mother arrived on the Fylde coast to see her family’s new commemorative bench.
The tragic story of Claire Throssell’s family made national headlines in October when her two children died in a house fire.
Claire’s ex-husband Darren Sykes, lured sons Paul, nine and Jack, 12, to his home with the promise of playing with a new train set in his loft.
But as the children played upstairs, Sykes, 44, lit a fire downstairs, killing himself and both his sons.
The family had previously enjoyed regular family holidays in St Annes and Jack, a trumpeter with the junior section of Barnsley Metropolitan Band, had said he would like to see band members on the St Annes bandstand.
So when Claire arrived from her South Yorkshire home on Saturday to unveil a plaque on the bench overlooking the bandstand, she was delighted to be greeted by Coun Peter Hardy, Fylde mayor, and Coun Sue Fazackerley, Fylde Council leader.
But to her surprise there was another set of guests – the junior section of the Barnsley Metropolitan Band, the Barnsley Town Concert Band, playing after a civic reception at Town Hall.
Claire, 42, said: “It was absolutely amazing. I lost the boys in October. Lytham and St Annes is a special place for the three of us.
“We have come over every year since Jack was three. Jack said ‘I want to play on the bandstand.’
“I came over at the weekend and they said they had a surprise. It was humbling and amazing for them to go to so much trouble.
“It meant the world.”
Band members waived their usual performance fee for Saturday’s concert.
Soper’s Bespoke, of St Annes, made the plaque’s unveiling ‘curtain’ free of charge while Fylde Council staff refurbished the bench for free and paid for the coach to transport the band.
Coun Hardy, who lost his mother in a fire when he was a small child, added: “Claire’s grief may never entirely go away but she can take solace in knowing that Jack’s wish to see the band in St Annes was finally granted.
“It was a pleasure to meet her and see the delight on her face when she turned up to what she had expected would be a low-key unveiling.”