IT marks a rose for every year since Blackpool schoolgirl Charlene Downes tragically went missing.
Mum Karen Downes placed a bouquet of eight red roses – her daughter’s favourite flowers – on a memorial bench in Stanley Park yesterday to mark the eighth anniversary of her disappearance.
Charlene, a former St George’s High School pupil, has not been seen since she kissed her mother goodbye at a bus stop on Church Street, aged just 14.
Mrs Downes, of Boothley Road, North Shore, said: “We met some of her friends off the bus and she was going to the arcades. I still remember the last time I saw her as if it was yesterday.
“I still see her there on Church Street.
“The last eight years have been terrible.
“We wanted to have a dignified ceremony in her memory. We’ve chipped together for a bouquet of roses – one for every year of her disappearance.
“Red roses were her favourite flowers.”
Charlene’s disappearance in 2003 sparked the biggest missing person’s hunt in Lancashire’s history.
Jordanian Iyad Albatikkhi and Iranian Mohammed Reveshi, the owners of Funny Boyz takeaway, now Mr Beanz, on Dickson Road, Blackpool, were arrested and charged with murdering the teenager and disposing of her body.
But the case collapsed and the men were acquitted of all charges and awarded a reported compensation sum of £300,000 each for false imprisonment.
Mrs Downes was supported by family, including her mother Jessie Brock, and friends at the ceremony yesterday afternoon.
Her husband Robert was too distraught to attend.
Charlene’s mum added: “We desperately want closure. I wish she would walk through the door but I know she won’t.
“These poignant days like the anniversary of when she went missing and her birthday are the worst for us, it’s really hard.”
Police maintain the inquiry into Charlene’s disappearance remains open.
The British National Party (BNP) is calling for added resources to be put into gathering new evidence in relation to Charlene’s case.
Controversial BNP leader Nick Griffin attended the ceremony yesterday.
He said: “We have been in the town centre waving placards and talking to people.
“This is to raise awareness of Charlene Downes and the injustice of her case.”