St Mary’s College unveiled a plaque in honour of Father Gerry Weston, an army chaplain killed by a bomb in February 1972, who is buried at St Peter’s and St Paul’s Church on Liverpool Road. The event tied in with the college’s annual Patron’s Day Mass in February. Following the service a wreath was laid at Father Weston’s grave before the unveiling of the plaque beneath the school’s World War Two memorial. The plaque’s wooden mount was designed and made by Mark Ireland, St Mary’s head of Design and Technology.
Fr Weston’s brother Paul attended the ceremony along with senior British Army representatives including former St Mary’s College pupil Lt Col Andrew Jackson and Lt Col Andrew Wareing, both senior officers in the Parachute Regiment.
Niall Rothnie, commander of St Mary’s Combined Cadet Force (CCF) and also head of History, said: ‘This plaque will be a permanent memorial to the remarkable life and tragic death of Fr Weston, one of the school’s bravest sons who tried so hard to promote peace and reconciliation at the height of the Troubles.’
Fr Weston had served in Germany, the Persian Gulf and Kenya before being posted to Northern Ireland. He frequently entered the difficult areas of Turf Lodge and Ballymurphy alone, talking with local people in an attempt to reduce tension This placed him in considerable personal danger, especially with a rumour circulating that a soldier was involved in military activities disguised as a priest. After his commanding officer ordered his withdrawal, he was awarded the MBE for gallantry on 15 February 1972.
Just seven days later, Fr Weston and six civilians were killed when a bomb exploded outside the Officers’ Mess of the 16th Parachute Regiment in Aldershot. He was 38 years old. The Official IRA claimed responsibility for the attack, in retaliation for Bloody Sunday three weeks earlier.