“I remember going to the cemetery in complete shock and disarray - and just sitting there next to his grave to be with him.”
Rachel Webb has experienced pain and grief that no parent should ever have to suffer – knowing that her son had been stabbed to death – murdered – in his home city.
“I had a feeling of total disbelief and devastation that this could actually happen – because this was a preventable death.”
Tom, who was 22, was going about his daily life with his friends on St Peter’s Street in Derby, buying food and drink.
Minutes later, he was murdered by a 16-year-old boy after a row sparked by a friend’s comment about a young woman being ‘fit’.
Tom didn’t know his killer; there was no feud, no drugs involved, no reason to fight. In fact, Tom was trying to walk away.
Rachel recalls with vivid clarity: “It came out in the trial, that Tom had said three times ‘I don’t want to fight, I don’t want to fight you.’ The perpetrator had three opportunities to pull back, but he didn’t.
“That’s when I realised that this was preventable. This has to stop!”
Tom Webb was stabbed in the centre of Derby
Soon after, one of the detectives who had been supporting Rachel asked her if she would like to go to see a sculpture that was being built.
Rachel agreed and so Lorraine Brewin, an officer with Derbyshire Police, took her to Oswestry, in Shropshire, to see it.
That sculpture was The Knife Angel. Rachel saw the sculpture being built and she was invited to inscribe Tom’s name on one of the 100,000 blades from which it is made.
Rachel recalls: “Up until then, I hadn’t known of anyone that had been murdered – I had never experienced that – and I felt completely alone.
“I remember crying in my bed – telling myself ‘you can live through this’ and that I couldn’t be the only mum to have been in this situation at some point.”
“But when I saw the Angel a huge wave of emotion came over me – I suddenly felt I wasn’t alone. That sounds really macabre, but it wasn’t ‘thank God there are others’, it was a feeling of connectivity. It was a feeling of strength that these other families had stood in support of this monumental, powerful sculpture – standing up to violence and saying ‘we can’t tolerate this, we are standing up against violence in all its forms.
“I also felt a huge shock, knowing that these thousands of knives had been collected in amnesties. It was a feeling of ‘my goodness, look at how many of them there are’ and then I realised the mass problem we have.
Rachel can barely contain her emotion as she explains: “But it was also a feeling of honour that my son would not be forgotten – because when you lose a child, your biggest fear is that they will be forgotten.
“All their friends go on, and they get married and they have children… but my son wasn’t afforded his life; his life was taken from him and I didn’t want people to forget him.
“And so it is a huge honour to have his name on this amazing piece of artwork.”
Rachel immediately realised that the Angel needed to be seen everywhere because of its potential to be a fantastic tool for education.
One of the events being run around the Knife Angel's visit to Derby is a youth summit, to which 350 children from local schools have been invited – including the school that Tom’s murderer attended.
Rachel will speak at that summit at Derby Cathedral.
One of the requirements for the Knife Angel to visit a venue is that it has to have the support of the family of a local victim, and Rachel had no hesitation in offering her support when it was suggested it be brought to Derby. She is also immensely grateful to everyone who has offered their support to get it here.
“I’m absolutely thrilled!” Her passion is tangible.
“It’s a weird thing to be thrilled about a monument coming that is so deeply painful for me to see, but it’s the possibility of a change - of a future - that is imperative.”
Standing outside Derby Cathedral, The Knife Angel will be just a few hundred yards away from where Tom was stabbed. How will Rachel feel when she sees it there?
“I think I will feel honoured and proud.
“It is so powerful and impactful. If it changes just one person’s thought process then there will be a ripple effect, and the people that have seen it will go on and have open conversations in their homes and parents will have discussions openly with their children about how they’re feeling [about knife crime].
“I just want it to stop – I want these unnecessary deaths to stop. It all comes back to choices about what we do in our lives and I hope the Angel can lead the way on some better choices for people.
“We don’t want to have another mum sat next to a grave, in the mud, crying. It just has to stop.”
>> See also: The Knife Angel in Derby
The Knife Angel outside Derby Cathedral
If you are concerned about knife crime in your neighbourhood or have any concerns about someone who you think is carrying a knife, contact Derbyshire Police using the following contact methods:
- · Facebook – send a private message to /DerbyshireConstabulary
- · Twitter – direct message the contact centre on @DerPolContact
- · Website – complete the online contact form www.derbyshire.police.uk/Contact-Us.
- · Phone – call 101.
You can also call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
In the event of an emergency you should always call 999.
Derby Cathedral is proud to be hosting The Knife Angel for the duration of its stay in the city, but many organisations have worked together to make the visit to Derby possible:
What is the Knife Angel?
The Knife Angel is the National Monument Against Violence and Aggression.
It is a sculpture that is dedicated to the victims of knife crime and is intended to raise awareness of the growing problem of knife crime and promote conversation and understanding about the need for knife crime to stop.
A number of the blades carry the names of knife crime victimes, inscribed by their loved ones.
The Angel was created by the British Ironwork Centre with sculptor Alfie Bradley.
Where and when will the Knife Angel be in Derby
The Knife Angel will be stationed outside Derby Cathedral, on Iron Gate, and be available for viewing from Thursday 3rd October until Tuesday 29th October.
There will be no charge to see the Knife Angel and volunteer marshals will be on hand to direct visitors and provide information.
How tall is the Knife Angel?
The sculpture is 27 feet tall (approx. 8.23 metres)
How many blades have been used to Make the Knife Angel?
Nobody knows the exact figure, but it contains around 100,000 blades.
A number of blades have been inscribed with the names of victims of knife crime.
What should I do if I am concerned about knife crime or if I know someone who is carrying a knife?
Contact Derbyshire Police using the following contact methods:
- Facebook – send a private message to /DerbyshireConstabulary
- Twitter – direct message the contact centre on @DerPolContact
- Website – complete the online contact form www.derbyshire.police.uk/Contact-Us.
- Phone – call 101.
- You can also call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111
In an emergency you should always call 999.
Where can I find out more information?
Here are some useful websites:
The National Monument Against Violence and Aggression
Outside Derby Cathedral - until Tuesday 29 October 2019
It's a sad fact that knife crime is rising across the country.
The Knife Angel’s presence in Derby is very much a symbol of the hard work of partners and communities across Derbyshire to halt this rise.
You can show your support and join us in standing up to knife crime. If you have any information, report it to police on 101 or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
If you are a young person you can find out more about knife crime by visiting: https://www.fearless.org/en
The spectacular, 27 feet high sculpture is made from around 100,000 bladed weapons collected in knife amnesties during police surrenders across the country.
The Angel was created by the British Ironwork Centre with sculptor Alfie Bradley.
Relatives of those killed by knife crime were invited to engrave the blades with names and messages for their loved ones as part of the sculpture.
The Knife Angel has visited many cities in the UK and is in Derby throughout most of October.
Rachel Webb, whose 22-year-old son, Tom, was killled in St Peter’s Street, Derby, after being stabbed by a 16-year-old in 2016, has been instrumental in bringing the Angel to Derby.
In the year that Tom was killed, Rachel supported a knife surrender held across Derbyshire and knives from this were donated towards the creation of this sculpture.
Derby Cathedral is pleased to be hosting the sculpture for the duration of its stay in the city, but many organisations have worked together to make the visit to Derby possible.
More on the Knife Angel
>> Thank Yous
Bishop Libby is pleased to announce that the Revd Canon Dr Elizabeth Thomson will be Acting Dean of Derby from 1 October 2019.
Canon Elizabeth has been at Derby Cathedral since 2014 as Canon Missioner, and was appointed sub-dean by the outgoing dean, the Very Revd Dr Stephen Hance.
On making the announcement, Bishop Libby said: "We are very thankful that Elizabeth is willing to take on this crucial role during the vacancy. Elizabeth has a proven track record of leadership and creative ministry in the cathedral. I am confident she will not only love and support the cathedral through this time of transition, but bring her gifts and experience to enabling the cathedral to flourish and grow during this time."
The task of selecting a new dean is already underway. The Archbishop of Canterbury will appoint someone who knows Derby and Derbyshire well to chair the panel that will oversee the process.
The panel for the interviews represents the diversity of the diocese, the cathedral and the wider community, reflecting the wide-ranging nature of the role of a dean. The panel works with the Bishop to make this appointment.
Consultations will be in mid-September. Individuals and groups have been contacted who can give the panel a really broad and deep sample of views about what the diocese, the city of Derby and the county needs in its dean, and there will be an open meeting for the congregation on Tuesday, 17 September.
All these conversations and other contributions will be drawn together to create a profile of the role, the cathedral and the kind of person who might be called to become Dean of Derby.
Both Derby Cathedral Chapter and Bishop Libby will submit their requirements and vision for the new dean, to complement a statement of needs and role specification.
It is intended to interview before Christmas, in the hope that an appointment can be made, and the new dean installed in 2020.
Would you like to be part of the Knife Angel event?
Volunteers are being sought who would like to like to marshal and inform visitors, and hand out leaflets.
The times that need to be covered are 10am to 8pm between Wednesday 2 October to Tuesday, 29 October with the team asking for a minimum of 2 hours and a maximum of 4 hours at a time.
Plans for the visit of the iconic statue are now reaching an advanced stage as the team continues with preparations.
Derby Cathedral and the Friends of Cathedral Music are inviting composers to submit a new setting of the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis The Derby Service to celebrate the FCM National Gathering at Derby in June 2020. The winning work will be premiered at Evensong on Sunday 14th June 2020 by Derby Cathedral Choir as part of the Gathering.
An award of £1000 and the possibility of the work being published by Encore Publications will be given to the composer of the winning entry!
For details of how to submit your entry, please see the attached flier.
The Dean of Derby, The Very Revd Dr Stephen Hance, has been appointed National Lead for Evangelism and Witness for the Church of England.
This announcement was made to the congregation at the 10.45am Eucharist service on 7th July 2019 and the Church of England made the announcement the following day.
The Dean said “I am a missioner at heart, passionate about growing the Church and helping people come to faith in Christ. My new role is all about enabling the Church of England to focus on these priorities and as such, it is one I had to say yes to. I will be sorry to leave Derby but grateful for all we have accomplished here together. The Cathedral and Diocese will remain in my heart and my prayers.
Stephen’s last service will the 10.45am Eucharist on Sunday 1 st September 2019 and will take up his new role at the end of September.
Please note the Cathedral will be closed to the public on the following dates and times:
Thursday 21st May 2019
9:00 am - 3:00 pm
1:05 pm Holy Communion will take place at Bridge Chapel
Wednesday 29th May 2019
2:00 pm - 5:30 pm
5:15 pm Evening Prayer will take place at Bridge Chapel
We apologise for any inconvenience caused.
Dr Christina Baxter
There is the opportunity to climb one of the tallest church towers in England, at 212 feet and having 189 steps.
Children must be over 8 years of age and accompanied by an adult. The climb requires suitable footwear and general medical fitness.
Our Remaining 2019 Tower Tour Dates Are:
Saturday 5th October at, 11:40 am, 12:40 or 1:40 pm
Saturday 2nd November at, 11:40 am, 12:40 or 1:40 pm
Saturday 7th December at, 11:40 am, 12:40 or 1:40 pm
Tickets are available on the day of the tour from the entrance to the Cathedral, we advise that that you arrive approximately 15 minutes prior to the tour time to avoid disappointment. Tickets are priced at £7 adult (£4 concessions)
Special Tower Events