By David Holmes Chester Chronicle
The widow of a man murdered in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre has hit out at two Chester University students who won a Halloween fancy dress contest by going as the Twin Towers.
Liz Gilligan from Hawarden, near Chester, lost husband Ron in the 2001 New York atrocity executed by al-Qaeda.
She is deeply offended by the sick costumes worn by Amber Langford and Annie Collinge and furious that Rosie’s nightclub awarded them the £150 first prize – despite the outfits depicting people falling to their deaths. Ron, a 43-year-old dad-of-three, was working for stockbrokers Cantor Fitzgerald on the 104th floor when the first hijacked plane struck.
He was among 67 British victims to lose their lives in the assault on the Twin Towers which claimed about 3,000 lives in total.
Mrs Gilligan, 52, told The Chronicle: “I can’t begin to tell you how angry and disgusted I am. To say I’m shocked and upset is an understatement.”
The library assistant, who has a son Dherran, 20, and daughter Ainsley, 23, both at university, and a 29-year-old daughter Ashley, who still lives in the States, added: “My husband died in the Twin Towers and my children 20 and 23 go to Rosie’s. As you can imagine they are upset.
“These girls and Rosie’s need to be made aware that 9/11 was very real and while it was 3,000 miles away, it affected people on their door step. I will be contacting Chester University where these girls attend and want a public apology.”
Amber, who is studying biology, and Annie, a criminology student, who is also vice president of the People and Planet Society, have now issued a public apology.
In a statement, the girls, both aged 19, said: “We never meant to be offensive, but we apologise if any offence was caused. The idea was to depict a serious, modern-day horror that happened in our lifetime and was not intended as a joke.”
Amber – thought to be a former Ysgol David Hughes pupil from Menai Bridge – and Annie attracted condemnation in the national press and on social media for their “disgusting” outfits.
The University of Chester and Chester Students’ Union said in a statement: “We utterly condemn the appalling photos which have been shared on social media. Both organisations have begun an urgent investigation into the circumstances around which these images have been taken with a view to taking the necessary action.”
A spokesperson for the Stonegate Pub Company, which operates Rosie’s, said: “Following the Club Night Halloween promotion that took place at Rosie’s, Chester, we are extremely concerned that an award of vouchers was made to two young women who were dressed in a distasteful and offensive manner.
“There was a serious error of judgement made on the evening by a contracted DJ to award such a prize and we apologise to anybody who may have been upset or offended by this. A full investigation by the company is taking place.”
Revellers who attended Rosie’s Halloween night contacted The Chronicle on Monday to express their outrage.
Emma Jones said: “This is a disgrace. Rosie’s should not be encouraging this kind of behaviour! I know for a fact I am not the only one disgusted by this. I think some recognition of this wrong-doing should be acknowledged considering there were people who were in Rosie’s on that night who had relatives die in the twin towers.
“When complaints were made Rosie’s did not do a thing to help. Their response was merely a ‘sorry, but it was a good costume’.”
George Borsberry claims he was told the same by a Rosie’s manager.
“He then had the audacity to say that there are people in other disgusting costumes such as Jimmy Savile, as if to justify that it was alright [sic] to dress like that.”
He added: “Where can the line be drawn? I might dress up as Hitler next year, or a depiction of a gas chamber with loads of dead Jews coming out of it, or something resembling the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945, killing over 66,000 people.
“To find a depiction of people dying and falling from the buildings funny, and to reward it with money, for me is an absolute disgrace and completely disrespectful on every level. I’ve been going to this nightclub for a number of years, but never in my life have I seen something treated with such disrespect and complete ignorance.”