A BOMB blast survivor has spoken of the moment she was reunited with the “inspirational” hero who led her to safety.
Lisa French was travelling to a meeting in London on July 7, 2005, when she was redirected from an Underground station to a nearby number 30 bus service.
Once on the upper deck, she was sitting just inches away from a young man carrying a bomb that he would soon detonate, killing 13 people as well as himself.
While Lisa, of Longbenton, North Tyneside, cannot remember the blast, she will never forget the sight of Chris Symonds, the British Transport Police worker who came to her aid and guided her from the wreckage of the red London Transport bus.
Now, four years on, the 34-year-old has finally met up once more with Chris, a Falklands War veteran, after he was tracked down by producers from the BBC.
In tonights’s edition of BBC 1’s Inside Out, viewers can watch their emotional meeting.
Lisa said: “Those few minutes that he spent with us, looking after us, were inspirational. He’s an amazing man. When he first came up to me and the lady sat beside me, he introduced himself and showed us his ID badge – we were deaf from the blast so couldn’t hear anything – and he took us off the bus.
“I remember having this really pristine, clean and normal looking man telling me that everything would be okay and as he’d been through a similar experience, he was proof that it could be all right.
“He did some really clever little things to make us feel safe, like when he led us away.
“Instead of saying ‘we’re going to interview you down the police station’, he said: ‘Come on ladies, I’m going to take you for lunch in the police station’. Over the course of the next couple of hours, he was basically in command of the triage section set up in the station, and he organised getting trays of sandwiches and water bottles passed around. He was amazing.
“I tried to track him down several times, but he left the transport police and moved house. However, the Inside Out team wrote to every Chris Symonds living in London, and that’s how he got in touch.
“Meeting him again was amazing. It was like going on a blind date, I was so nervous, and I’ve told him he dare not walk out of my life ever again. He was an even bigger legend the second time around.
“I told him how he made me feel like the safest girl in the world. His new job at Network Rail sometimes brings him to Newcastle so we still keep in touch over email and we’re planning a night out and a curry soon.”
Chris, whose ship was hit when he served in the Falklands War, said: “I don’t think it ever goes away for me or for Lisa. For the rest of her life she will remember that awful day and I think it’s the same for anyone who has been involved in any kind of atrocity.”
Tonight’s Inside Out programme sees presenter Chris Jackson follow Lisa as she conquers her fears by detonating landmines in Cambodia, getting back on a London bus and skydiving from 13,000ft.