A StarDisc for Gander . . .
Wirksworth, Derbyshire and Gander, Newfoundland on either side of the Atlantic had no obvious connection until on 11th September 2001 they were brought closer together. If you haven’t seen Come From Away currently showing on the West End you can be forgiven for having missed the considerable kindness and generosity shown by the residents of Gander, Newfoundland as the chaos of what we now call 9/11 unfolded. It was not missed though by Wirksworth resident, Chris Spencer.
As New York’s twin towers held the screens of the world, residents of Gander paused normal life to accommodate 6,700 airplane passengers and crew from 96 countries diverted away from US airspace. The population of Gander almost doubled overnight. Now immortalised by passenger Kevin Tuerff’s book ‘Channel of Peace’ one of the true stories that inspired the hit Broadway musical Come From Away, the town went above and beyond, providing beds and blankets, entertainment, tours of the area, food, drink, reassurance and a whole lot more.
Chris was bound for New York on Lufthansa flight LH400 and had no knowledge of what was unfolding below him. Then in his early twenties, he was excited to see the City and planned to visit the World Trade Center the following day. As Chris neared John F. Kennedy Airport though the flight captain announced that they would not be landing. Within a couple of hours he found himself alone in Gander.
“I am just one of the many who received and witnessed the compassion and generosity of the islanders. Although I am agnostic, this extraordinary experience made me understand why people have faith in God, and I now know for sure the existence of angels... they are the gracious people of Gander, Newfoundland, who welcomed us with open arms and provided shelter from the storm… for this, I and fellow stranded passengers and crew have reason to thank our lucky stars and remain forever grateful.”
Chris has always had the hope of thanking the Gander residents for their part in making him feel so safe and welcome. In 2018 he had the idea to gift a StarDisc to Gander supported by an international crowd funding campaign to make it happen.
“I was deeply moved by Chris’s testimony and the way he conveyed the kind hearted generosity of the people of Gander. When Chris proposed a crowdfunding campaign to enable a StarDisc be gifted to Gander in recognition of town’s selfless deeds I was keen to support.”
Aidan Shingler - StarDisc creator
Chris plans to launch the crowd funding campaign in December.
If the £200,000 funding target is reached the objective is to:
■ Commission, ship, construct and launch a StarDisc in Gander for 09/11/2021
■ Give thanks to the town and recognise the compassionate humanity of its citizens
■ Commemorate the 20th year of that fateful day
■ Establish a permanent memorial to ensure the events surrounding 09/11 are remembered by future generations
■ Help enrich the town’s cultural activities
■ Support the local economy
■ Celebrate universal inclusion
The hope and the goal is to gift a 40ft full-scale StarDisc, but If the crowd funding campaign falls short of its target, available funds will be used to send Newfoundland either a 21ft, 14ft or 7ft Micro StarDisc.
■ Gander Town Council have set aside a site in Cobb's Pond Rotary Park for StarDisc.
Click COME FROM AWAY to see trailer