There were so many of us

The horror of last July in London was brought back to life for North-East bomb blast survivor Lisa French yesterday as she returned to the capital to join millions in remembering the outrage.

The horror of last July in London was brought back to life for North-East bomb blast survivor Lisa French yesterday as she returned to the capital to join millions in remembering the outrage.

The 31-year-old joined fellow survivor Louise Shepherd to mark the anniversary, which she says brought many of her feelings from a year ago flooding back.

Despite the incredible emotion, Ms French says the day was a vital milestone for survivors and the bereaved families of the 52 victims and an opportunity to send a message of "absolute defiance".

The BT worker had returned to the capital with husband Russ Godwin for the memorial service, and joined fellow No 30 bus survivor Louise Shepherd and hundreds of others in a two-minute silence at Tavistock Square.

The pair were sat next to each other on the last

surviving row of the bus which was ripped apart by a bomb at 9.47am and have been in contact ever since.

They stood together yesterday just yards from where the bus was destroyed, to pay their respects.

Ms French, of Longbenton in North Tyneside, said: "It was incredibly emotional.

"London was absolutely silent. People were crying and I saw a guy who was pushing his bike down the road with tears rolling down his face - and that's when it really brought it home."

After the noon silence, the two were led in to Tavistock Square where a plaque had been laid with the names of those who died and they were given the opportunity privately to remember the events of a year ago.

The moment was even more poignant for Ms French when she met No 30 bus driver George Psaradakis, who joined London Mayor Ken Livingstone and London transport commissioner Peter Hendy in laying a wreath.

She said: "Meeting George was incredibly moving.

"It was so good to finally be able to thank him for helping us.

"To be back there at exactly the same time as when it happened was unbelievable."

Systems manager Lisa, who survived the blast but suffered shattered teeth and burst eardrums, says preparing for the anniversary had been a massive challenge and when it arrived it was day of mixed emotions.

She said: "When I woke up, my stomach was in knots and I felt all the emotions I went through after it happened.

"There were moments when I was just crying and times when I felt sadder than ever before in my life. But there were also moments I felt better - it was very mixed up."

It was the memorial service in Regent's Park, however, that really brought home to Lisa the extent of the carnage carried out by the four suicide bombers.

Ms French said: "One of things that shook me was the sheer number of people who had been affected - for everyone there 7/7 was the worst day of their lives and there were so many of us.

"It made you realise how many people had suffered and how many people whose lives had been ruined."

Ms French, who has only returned to the capital twice since 7/7, believes the anniversary will help her, and others trying to deal with the repercussions of the atrocities, to move forward.

Despite the strain of the day, she says the memorial was the perfect way not only to honour those who lost their lives, but also to show London's defiance.

She said: "It has been a huge milestone. I think it brought it all back to me, but that's part of addressing it and dealing with it. It was as much a celebration of carrying on - sending out a message of absolute defiance."

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