A lucky escape: 7/7 London Bombings – my mum’s personal heroic account of a tragic day!
Luck is as unpredictable as the weather. How do you tell a family or friend that their loved ones won’t be coming home today? I thank God every day that my mum and dad made the ‘lucky escape’. As a 48-year-old mum of three, she works as an instructor operator on the Jubilee Line and still loves her job. For the 52 victims that were lost, my mum’s lucky escape will always remind her that her job and choices in life will be forever in the memory of those who are no longer with us.
Taking me back 10 years, 7 July 2005 remains a frightening concept for many reasons. How could ten years of my life have flown by so quickly with so many life changing events passing by in the blink of an eye? With so many wonderful, endearing and triumphant memories behind me, the terror and tragic scenes which took London by storm will never be forgotten in my memory for one personal reason.
The rush hour commute began on a slightly overcast morning in July. What was a regular routine for many turned into utter devastation as, just after 8.50am, three explosions took place on the underground, claiming the lives of 26 people at Russel Square, six people at Edgware Road and seven at Aldgate. Unbeknown to emergency services was a fourth device which was detonated on a double-decker bus in Tavistock Square, killing 13 people.
London ground to a halt.
My mum has worked as an instructor operator on the Jubilee Line for 15 years and she loves what she does. I was coming to the end of my first year at secondary school and was sitting in an English lesson recounting Beowulf. At around 10am, my headmistress had announced that there had been four attacks on London’s tube and buses. Screeching cries soon became the subject of the classroom, leaving the history of Beowulf to another day. I burst into tears. What many of my friends had neglected to realise was Edgware Road was not Edgware in North London (much to their relief); and my mum would almost definitely be involved in the turmoil that had possessed the tunnels of London; whether hers was one of the affected trains or not.
Having had young children at the time, my mum was accustomed to the early shifts at work which would start at around 5am. She began her day like any other, unaware that the morning rush would turn into a murder scene. My friends would often say to me ‘doesn’t she just push a button?’ when driving a train, but with an element of naivety and misunderstanding, but my mum holds the lives of thousands in her hands every day. Tube drivers do not often get credit for their work, but 7/7 had proven otherwise.
After hearing the news, I froze in fear of the unknown. With a power surge at the time the supposed cause of the explosions, the entire network was shut down and all tube drivers were issued code amber which meant they were to get to the nearest station and stop. Fortunately for my mum, she was stopped at Willesden Green before going underground. Keeping passengers as calm as possible is no easy task and directly after code amber was issued, code red was enforced. My mum became a survivor in her own right. Pushing through the pandemonium and uproar of passengers on board her train and that of others, she became part of an evacuation operation. With only information of a power surge to avoid panic at hand, my mum heroically abandoned her fear and helped her passengers make a ‘lucky escape’.
My mum, along with another tube driver, was stranded for more than 7 hours.
The hours passed and school lessons became inexistent as I desperately tried to ring my mum and dad. As a 12-year-old girl, there is no worse feeling than thinking you may have lost your mum to the carnage and horror inflicted by another human being. Only now I know my mum was desperately trying to get hold of my school, to reassure me that she was okay. With no tears left to spare, I was becoming increasingly anxious. After an hour and half, I held the phone to my ear and heard my mum’s voice. Breaking down in relief, I continued to cry as though a heavy burden had been lifted, the thought of my mum trapped left me on edge.
Not too soon after, my dad contacted me to tell me of his ‘lucky escape’ as he just missed the train that had left Kings Cross St Pancras which later became one of the three trains to be bombed. Coupled with my mum, I was a lucky child. Reuniting with my parents later that day was not without sadness. I remember watching the news for days as debris was shifted and victims were named. London may have been struck but it was not destroyed. Ten years has emphasised a positive attack against extremists. Those who survived have made some of the most tremendous life changing experiences; ones which have been made in honour of those who couldn’t.
My mum, since the London bombings, has expressed a sense of patriotism and compassion to the families that had lost their loved ones. She made a quick transition back to work and comforted the drivers who were fortunate to have survived the explosion on board their own trains. What 7/7 had taught my mum is to be fearless and in control. It was a ‘lucky escape’ for her and many others that day and my mum will never let terrorists triumph. Alongside every Londoner in her position, she will always have the upper hand.
Let us remember those who innocently died and may they always be in our memory!