Poignant memorial to tragic Wigan student Ellen

Ellen Higginbottom
Ellen Higginbottom

A Wigan community is creating a garden inspired by murder victim Ellen Higginbottom so the public have a place to pay their condolences and reflect.

The 18-year-old Winstanley College student was brutally killed at Orrell Water Park in June 2017 and Tracks Lane became a poignant place for people to lay flowers and visit.

A close-up of the bench showing the plaque for Ellen

A close-up of the bench showing the plaque for Ellen

In partnership with Wigan Council and Winstanley College, residents local to Tracks Lane have been maintaining and improving a piece of land adjacent to Greenslate Farm in preparation for the garden.

Residents wanted to create a lasting tribute to Ellen and with the full backing of her parents, creation of the garden is now under way.

It will include a bench with a commemorative plaque and shrubbery, which was installed by volunteers and the council’s greenspaces team.

Vibrant flowers will also be planted in the coming weeks.

Ellen's father, boyfriend and family with Councillor Kevin Anderson, Councillor Joanne Marshall (lead member for greenspaces), Paul Barton (director for environment), Louise Tipping and representatives from the community by the memorial bench

Ellen's father, boyfriend and family with Councillor Kevin Anderson, Councillor Joanne Marshall (lead member for greenspaces), Paul Barton (director for environment), Louise Tipping and representatives from the community by the memorial bench

Coun Kevin Anderson, cabinet member for environment at Wigan Council said: “The whole town was rocked by the news of Ellen’s passing last year and despite the extremely difficult circumstances, it’s humbling to see the community pull together in this way.

“We’re honoured to support such an important cause and be a part of a project to commemorate Ellen.

“The garden will be very peaceful and I’m sure members of the public will enjoy spending time here.”

Local residents have also volunteered to maintain the Tracks Lane garden and hope that the space can be entered into Wigan Borough In Bloom in the near future.

The local authority has also supported another garden dedicated to Ellen by donating a bench, which will be within Winstanley College’s grounds but open to the public.

Louise Tipping, principal of Winstanley College, said: “This is a lovely tribute by the community to Ellen which we will treasure.

“Ellen loved nature and people and so a garden inspired by her is a fitting tribute to a much missed student, friend and daughter.

“Working with Ellen’s family, we are landscaping another garden for Ellen within the college grounds also and we hope this will be a quiet place of reflection for staff, students and visitors to the college.”

Winstanley College hope to open their garden in June.

Ellen was walking home alone from college through the water park when she was attacked by Mark Buckley.

Concerned family raised the alarm when she failed to come home to Worsley and a police search was launched. Officers found her remains in the small hours of the next morning.

Buckley, 52, who hailed from nearby Billinge but was supposed to be living in Preston at the time, would later admit to Ellen’s murder when he appeared at Manchester Crown Court although his motives remain unclear. The hearing was told he probably randomly selected poor Ellen as he prowled the park.

Several other people were also prosecuted for trying to cover Buckley’s tracks by disposing of Ellen’s possessions.