10 years on from 7/7: the lives touched by terror

India Sturgis Telegraph

For those who were there on the day, and those who lost loved ones, the legacy of the London bombings lives on. Here, some of them tell their stories

The life-saver

Elizabeth Kenworthy, 54, an off-duty police officer was two carriages away from the bomb at Aldgate station. She was awarded an MBE for her heroism in saving the lives of Martine Wright and Andrew Brown

Straight after the attack I went to a café and wrote down everything that had happened. I’ve never been able to write about it since, but during those first weeks it was impossible think about anything else.

We’d barely pulled out of Liverpool St station when there was an almighty bang and people started to shout for help. I had no idea what happened, but instinct took over. The carriage looked as though it had been disembowelled, wires were hanging and there was blood everywhere. But a strange calmness took over. Lives were at risk, I needed to act.

I applied first aid to two causalities [Martine Wright and Andrew Brown], both [of] whose legs were missing, by making a tourniquet from my jacket and using a T-shirt and tie from another passenger. All my energy was focused on talking to them, holding their hands, wiping soot from their mouths and keeping them alive until help came about 40 minutes later.

Today Andrew is a lifelong friend and I visit him a couple of times a year. Every anniversary of the bombings we travel to Aldgate together, lay flowers and share a coffee. Despite his life-changing injuries, he is able to work and drive a car. Martine is a Paralympic volleyball player and has had an amazing life. She is married and has a baby now. As a result of seeing what they have achieved my daughter Emily, 22, has become an occupational therapist.

In 2008 I was awarded an MBE, but the real heroes are the paramedics and servicemen who came down onto the tracks having no idea what had happened. I still think about those I wasn’t able to save, turning the events over and over wondering if I should have done things differently.

The relative

John Taylor, 66, from Billericay in Essex is the father of 24-year-old Carrie Taylor who was killed by Shehzad Tanweer’s bomb at Aldgate station which killed six others

Every day I think back and think what might have been if Carrie, our only daughter, had survived. Would she be married and have a family, would we be grandparents?

The sense of loss never goes. Her brother Simon, 38, still lives at home and we do everything together as a unit. The difference is we are missing one. At restaurants there are always four chairs and we take her passport and photographs of her with us on holiday; our way of keeping her with us.

I remember every detail of the day itself and those that followed: watching the news for hours, the hundreds of unanswered calls to her mobile, trips to hospitals to see if anyone had heard of her, police officers arriving at home without information then returning to take DNA from Carrie’s room.

I spoke at the inquest five years later to help establish what had happened and ensure lessons were learnt. Carrie had been alive for 20 – 25 minutes, but it was almost half an hour before she was seen by a paramedic, by which time it was too late. She had only just been given a permanent position at the Royal Society of Arts and wanted to work in theatre. She had so much to live for.

I speak about her a lot still. I wouldn’t like to bottle up the grief. Everyone has their own way of dealing with tragedy. Four individuals took away Carrie’s future, along with 51 other innocent people’s lives and destroyed countless others in the process. I still feel the same way about them as I did on the day of the attacks. This country will never give in to extremism.

The survivor

Peace advocate Gill Hicks, 47, lost both legs and was close to death after she was caught in an explosion in the London underground making her way to work in Covent Garden

I only recently completed the tube journey I started on the morning of July 7th, 2005. I took the Piccadilly Line from Kings Cross to Covent Garden, got out and said, “That’s it, I’m done”. That one trip aside, I’ll never take the underground again.

When I think about the bombing itself I can’t believe that was 10 years ago. The acute nature of my injuries – my legs will never grow back – mean I’ve been in a constant learning process ever since.

My memories of the day are still so vivid. The bomb was detonated in the time it took to draw a breath and suddenly we were all plummeted into a completely black abyss. It was an hour before the emergency responders could get to us. Fellow commuters had put me on what remained of a bench seat. I could assess my injuries and what was incredible was that I was able to focused and tourniquet up the tops of my thighs and do all I could to save my own life.

From the moment I survived, the euphoria and gratefulness of having a life has superseded everything. I’ve been married, divorced, the whole spectrum. My little girl, Amelie, is now two-and-a-half-years-old and that’s the greatest achievement of all and a wonderful testament to everybody who saved my life. In doing that I’ve now been able to go on and create another.

I now work as a peace advocate and have done lots of work with the community in Beeston – where several of the bombers were from. I spent time there two years after the bombing and have been there again this week. We all feel it is so important to unite and show absolute strength in the face of violent extremism. I’ve seen the brilliance of humanity and know, because of that, that terrorism will ultimately never work.

But I’ve also now realised how angry I am. Primarily, I’m angry at the senselessness of the act. Taking the precious life of others and taking my limbs. I have asked myself countless times ever since, ‘What was the point?’

Gill Hicks appears in the Sky News’ documentary 7/7 Ten Years On.

The presenter

Sky News presenter Lorna Dunkley, 43, was live on air as news of the bombings broke

London had just been awarded the 2012 Olympics the night before, so I was presenting jubilant news items about the impact of the games to tourism and infrastructure when the first wire story of an incident appeared on screen. It read that there had been a power surge on London Underground. Our producer told us to mention it as it would effect a lot of people but, as a national channel, we are always concerned about being too London-centric and, initially at least, we didn’t dwell on it.

Shortly after, I interviewed rail union boss Bob Crow who blamed whatever had just happened on cutting corners and underfunding – I had to remind him we still didn’t know the cause.

It was pre-Twitter, so we relied on public call-ins for information. It took 45 minutes and the explosion of the Number 30 bus at Tavistock Square at 9.47am to fully realise the severity of the situation as eye witness accounts began to pour in.

Then, it was truly terrifying. I felt numb and in a state of disbelief but, as a journalist, you’ve got to carry on – asking questions and trying to be as coherent as possible. I finished my shift at 10am and went home, glued to the news for the rest of the day.

In the weeks that followed I interviewed many people involved. Even after 14 years presenting world events for Sky including conflicts in Libya and Egypt, the strength and dignity of those who live through major trauma incidents still surprises me. They wanted to show the world that terrorists wouldn’t change them. They would survive and move forward, no matter what.

The survivor

George Roskilly, 72, was 4ft away from bomber Jermaine Lindsay, who detonated his device between King’s Cross and Russell Square, killing 26 people

It has taken me years to process what happened – and why I survived when so many who were less than half my age didn’t. The trauma stays with you and I broke down eight months later. I was lucky though; I walked away from the carriage minutes after the bomb went off. I remember the taste of soot and the sound of praying, crying and screaming all around me in the pitch black.

There was glass in my head, neck and behind my ears but otherwise, I was unharmed, saved by the partition of glass and the packed bodies around me. At the station bodies were brought out on stretchers missing legs, so covered in black soot it was impossible to determine whether they were male or female. It was surreal, like the world had gone mad. I just wanted to get home.

In the days afterwards my wife, Nita, 72, wanted me to go to the doctor but I couldn’t. It wasn’t until February the next year that I realised how traumatised I still was. I had papered over my feelings, but one of my grandsons started crying during dinner and the sound set something off, bringing everything back. I just broke down.

I spent a year in counselling and realised I was suffering from survivor’s guilt. I am much better now but still jump at loud noises and am nervous on the tube – and I have had one black out. This anniversary, as I do every year, I will travel to Russell Square with other survivors to reflect on how lucky I am to be alive.

The fireman

Fireman Simon Tuhill, 41, attended Edgware Rd minutes after Mohammad Sidique Khan detonated his device killing six people

Whenever I pass through that small section of tunnel 50 metres or so from the platform at Edgware Rd, it is always a sobering moment to think what I was doing there ten years ago.

I’ve been a fireman for 18 years but almost nothing has compared with the carnage and chaos I saw at the station. I arrived on the scene shortly after 9.10am with three colleagues. We had expected a power supply problem but it was quickly clear something far more serious had happened.

People were streaming up the steps, coughing and spluttering, fear in their eyes. I made my way down to the platform, along the tracks and through the carriages to where the bomb had gone off. Paramedics were already working on bodies and I helped bring up two women on stretchers who were injured.

I still don’t know what happened to either and it’s something that has stayed with me. After the inquest, I was sent a letter of congratulations by the Commissioner but I’m not a hero. I was just a small part of a bigger whole, working to right a horrific situation. Luckily I can compartmentalise work from home life and I have moved on from what happened but I will never forget that day.

Terrorist attacks are intended to try and force us to change our behaviour, but I certainly won’t. Now I take a fatalistic approach; if it is your time to go, it is your time to go. But until then I will continue to do my job.

The journalist

Ashish Joshi was one of the first journalists on the scene for Sky News at Aldgate station

On 7 July I was in Stratford covering London as the venue for the 2012 Olympics when I got a call from my editor saying there had been an explosion on the London Underground. I dropped everything and drove there, ditching my car and running to the station.

Panic, chaos and confusion reigned, no one knew what was going on and no one was answering my questions. Paramedics and the police put up screens and tents so we couldn’t see anything except a stream of ambulances leaving.

There was a collective understanding amongst the media that day that none of us would get in the way of the emergency services. We understood this was big.

Until the last few days, I haven’t thought much about the bombings since it happened.

It’s only now, after visiting Beeston in West Yorkshire, in and around where the bombers were from, to look at how the community has changed, that it has been brought back.

Ten years ago I visited straight after the attacks. As an Asian man, it was thought local communities might open up to me more than my non-Asian contemporaries. I found it a frightened, hostile place that feared a far right response to the bombing. Ten years on it’s a very different place as the public has accepted that the bombers could have come from any town or any city. Everyone has moved on.

If the terrorists’ desire was to spread hatred and division, they have not succeeded as communities, no matter whether Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Sihk, feel a collective responsibility to look after themselves together in this country.

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