Town centre crane fan ‘Mimi’ gets a replica of the towering structure and meets its operator

'Mimi' with her own 'giant crane', watched on by John Griffiths, leader of West Suffolk Council, crane operator Kristy Swallow and Barnes Construction site manager Steven Rouse. Photo: West Suffolk Council.

VIDEO: See the video when Mimi Langley met crane operator Kristy Swallow at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KXE-roKSUAk

Every night for the past six months, three-year-old “Mimi” Amelia Langley, said night, night to the tower crane she could see from her bedroom window.
And whenever her family went into Bury St Edmunds town centre, Mimi would point out the 18-metre-high crane, being used in a West Suffolk Council development, and gaze in wonder.

So, when news broke on the council’s social media that the tower crane was to come down this week, mum Jess knew her daughter would be “devastated,” and told the council how much Mimi had loved seeing it.

“She absolutely loved the crane. She would point it out whenever we come into town. She could see the red aircraft warning light on the crane from her bedroom window. It’s even become part of her bedtime stories that her dad tells her, and she says goodnight to it each evening. So, when I heard it was to come down, I knew she would be really upset,” said Jess.

The tower crane has been used since April for work on the redevelopment of the former Post Office site on the Cornhill.

Once completed next year, the redevelopment, being undertaken by on the council’s behalf by Barnes Construction, will deliver two ground floor business units with 12 flats above.

The Victorian Cornhill front has been carefully preserved with restoration work on the front alongside the installation of new more energy efficient windows due to be completed soon. At what was once the rear yard of the Post Office a new frontage has been created while the walkway at Market Thoroughfare between the Arc Shopping Centre and the historic town centre has been widened at ground level by more than 50 per cent to 3.8metres.

The council arranged with its contractor Barnes Construction for Mimi and Jess to meet the crane operator Kristy Swallow and the site manager Steven on Monday, the day before the crane came down.

Mimi said: “I can see the crane from my bedroom. It’s really big.”

Kristy spoke to Mimi about what it is like operating the crane.

“I love the view – it’s definitely the best part of the job especially at this time of year,” she said.

Senior site manager for Barnes Construction, Steven Rouse, presented Mimi with her own hardhat and hi-vis while John Griffiths, the leader of West Suffolk Council, gave Mimi an early Christmas present – her very own crane – albeit a slightly smaller version.

Mr Griffiths said: “Our investment in this project is about the future of the town centre. While the crane has done its bit and work must progress, the last thing we wanted was to upset one of our youngest residents and we thought she would like her own, albeit smaller, crane as a memento. It was great to meet Mimi, her younger brother Charlie and her mother Jess, as well as Kristy, the talented crane operator. Who knows, maybe one day Mimi, like Kristy, will be operating one for real.”

Jess said: “It was so lovely for Mimi to come along and meet everybody. She absolutely loves her new crane, hard hat and hi-vis so a big thank you to the council and Barnes and I’m looking forward to seeing the work all completed next year.”

You can find out more about the project at https://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/cornhill 

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