Those caught up in the tragic 7/7 London bombings reveal how they’ve coped since the atrocity
Today marks the 10th anniversary of the 7/7 London bombings, the worst single terrorist attack on Great Britain.
A decade ago today the country was left reeling after bombs exploded on three Tube trains and a bus in central London, killing 52 people. The explosives were carried by four suicide bombers with links to al-Qaeda.
As we remember the tragic events of the day and those who lost their lives, we’ve also been hearing the incredibly poignant stories of the survivors and members of the public who were caught up in the attacks.
Gill Hicks is one of those who came through the tragedy and has an amazing story to tell. The 46-year-old lost both of her legs below the knee on the busy King’s Cross train and was the last person to be pulled alive from the devastating wreckage.
‘I was to all intents and purposes dead on arrival when I was brought [to hospital]. I woke up in intensive care and drifted in and out of consciousness,’ Gill tells the Mirror.
‘One of my first memories is of wanting to be reassured that I had arms, that I was still here. I wanted to know how much of me was left. I knew my legs were gone.’
Having lost 75 per cent of her blood, Gill’s chances of survival looked slim but she embarked on an incredible recovery at St Thomas’s Hospital. She learned to walk again on prosthetic legs and welcomed a daughter, Amelie, two years ago.
Since the attacks, Gill – who has returned to her native Australia after living in London for 24 years – has campaigned against violent extremism and was even awarded an MBE for her wonderful work.
‘I was absolutely euphoric that I had survived, despite the loss of my legs. That euphoria has stayed with me ever since, 10 years on,’ she explains. ‘I’m so fortunate and very grateful that I’m here.’
This week Gill had an emotional reunion with PC Andrew Maxwell, the man who carried her out of the Tube and to safety on that terrible day. The pair hugged as they met up outside King’s Cross station on Monday.
Another survivor with an incredible story is Michael Henning. He was just metres away from the bomber on the Circle Line train and remembers thinking that he was dead in the initial aftermath following the explosion.
Chillingly the ‘screams and whimpering’ of others who were suffering around him have stayed with Michael and he admits that he can still hear it now, even when he’s just walking down the street.
‘The 10 years have been a hellish journey,’ he says.
But Michael still considers himself to be a ‘deeply lucky person’ given that he chose to board the third carriage of the train rather than the second where the bomber was standing.
It is inspiring to hear that, despite the enduring trauma, Michael has managed to reach a place of peace.
‘I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. I have a great perspective on life,’ he tells the BBC.
‘When you face your mortality, it has such a profound effect and every day is a bonus. It doesn’t have to be a special day.
‘A quiet day – you can really appreciate that.’
There are many other poignant survivor stories. Peter Skyte for example, who has only recently spoken about the ordeal for the first time, has said how he remembers a pregnant woman standing next to him on the Piccadilly Line train.
10 years on, he can’t help thinking of her and hopes she is okay.
‘This is the first time I have recounted my memory of that day, now ten years ago. The line between life and death is on occasion a very fine one. Had I managed to get in to the first carriage of the train, I might have been one of the dead,’ he says.
‘By chance and possibly fate, I was one of the uninjured survivors. Of such happenings are lives lived or lost.
‘My final thought is the hope that the woman who was next to me in that 3rd carriage had a successful pregnancy and birth.’
Our thoughts are with all of those affected by the tragic events of 7/7 today.