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Tuesday, 7 July 2015

7/7: 10 Years On

Ten years ago today my husband and I were in our hotel in London when news of the first bomb reached us.  We were due to return home that morning, but within hours the whole of central London had come to a complete standstill.  The usually full of life Covent Garden was completely empty, and the city felt like a ghost town.  My family and friends were frantic with worry, but it was impossible to communicate with the outside world for quite a few hours as the phone lines were jammed, and the very little internet access our hotel had was constantly in use by people trying to contact their loved ones.

It was terrifying.  We didn't know if or when another attack would happen, so after briefly trying (and failing - we only got as far as Covent Garden which was completely deserted) to make our way across central London (what were we thinking?!), we decided to stay where we were until it was safe to travel across the city to where our car was parked, which unknown to us at the time was very close to where one of the bombs had gone off. There were police everywhere, and there was no way of knowing if there were going to be any more bomb blasts. But luckily, we managed to check back into our hotel (on Piccadilly Circus), so at least we had a place to stay. 

The part of Central London where we were staying came to a virtual standstill. There was no public transport, many of the shops and restaurants were closed and the entire West End shut down. But the way in which everyone coped with the situation was a true inspiration. Everyone pulled together and that indomitable spirit of the people of London was there for the world to see.

We finally managed to get out of Central London at midnight, eventually arriving home at around 3am. We could have stayed until morning, but all we wanted to do at that point was to go home.

I decided then that I would not let what had happened prevent me from visiting London again in the future, and true to my word I have been back as often as my personal circumstances would allow. 

I love London. It's such a vibrant city and so full of life. I refused then (and I refuse now) to let these people stop me from spending time in a city that I love. I refuse to let them win. When things like this happen I think of what our parents, grandparents and great grandparents went through during the war and the way in which they did not allow their spirits to be broken. And neither will we.

I will never forget how I felt on that day for as long as I live.

But we were the lucky ones.

Today we remember everyone who lost their lives on that devastating day in London. And our thoughts are also with those whose lives were changed forever by the horrifying events that took place on 7/7/05.

I leave you with the words of George Psaradakis, the driver of the No. 30 bus in Tavistock Square, which remain just as poignant today, especially in light of the recent devastating events in Tunisia:

"You will not defeat us. You will not break us."

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