Wednesday, April 04, 2007

One Unknown

Gill, and her husband Joe are people whom I am very happy to know. Gill sends me the funniest text messages of anyone in my mobile address book , ( I will never forget the trampolining one, and the birthday one - 'it's Gill's birthday, come and get legless'. Her bravery, her calmness and her laughter are exceptional.
I would not have known Gill if we had not shared the same journey to work one day. July 7 2005. Gill should not have been on that train; her normal journey to work was on the Northern Line. But the Northern Line had problems that day so she took the Piccadilly line to make up time.
I got on at Finsbury Park, and I stood by the holding pole by the first set of doors at the front end of carriage one. A few stops later, Gill got on at King's Cross, stepping on the packed train and standing in the centre of carriage one, through the second set of doors. A few feet away was Germaine Lindsey, a nineteen year old man, with a bomb in the rucksack on his back, who had boarded within minutes of Gill.
We pulled out of King's Cross, the packed-out carriage full of ordinary people thinking about the day they had ahead of them and then...
''It was as quick as a click of your fingers and that was it. The lives of all of us in that carriage changed forever. But I didn't know it then. I didn't know what had happened. It was as dramatic as being on a sunny, sandy beach, drinking and talking with friends one minute, to suddenly, like the click of a finger, finding yourself in the bowels of hell. In a breath, everything had changed. The whole world changed.''
Gill was the last person to be brought alive from the wreckage of the carriage. She lost both legs below the knee, and 75-80% of the blood in her body. Her book tells the story of her survival and recovery, and words like 'inspiring' do not really do justice to it, unless you use the word 'inspiring' in its old sense: Filled with the very essence of the divine life-force , emanating from the healing breath of God, being filled with Spirit, and fire, that is the opposite of death, and chaos, and despair.
Five months after the shattered journey, Gill walked down the aisle in her wedding dress. Two inches taller on her new prosthetic legs.
Like many 7/7 people, Gill went on to completely change her working life, and she chose to work with a charity, Peace Direct, who inspired people all over the world [EDIT see comments] with a film she made about grassroots' peace. Please, visit their site and see what they do - you can sign up for their monthly email newsmagazines here, and they are always thought-provoking - and uplifting and practical. I love getting them.
I can't wait to read Gill's beautiful book tonight, and if you would like to buy it, it's in shops now and on amazon - click here to buy it .
Thank you Gill, for everything you do.
UPDATE: The book is bloody brilliant. Have read 160 pages. Please read. And thank you, Peace Direct, for the comments and the marvellous work you do, too.

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Blogger Essuu said...

she chose to work with new charity, Peace Direct, who were inspired into being by a film she made about grassroots peace.

Just to correct a fact, it wasn't that way around. Gill very kindly agreed to be our ambassador and we made the film with her but PeaceDirect has actually be in existence since 2003.

She, and you, have been an amazing inspiration and show once again that peace can only be truly built by those who live in the communities affected by conflict; by talking, by listening, by understanding and by finding common ground. It's wonderful to have your support.

Thank you and best wishes,


April 04, 2007 6:42 pm  
Anonymous Sila said...

I am so glad she's written this book. For me she means the dead becoming alive. She was one of the dead person I saw that day and when I realized she had survived, to me it meant the start of my recovery. The hope and the strenght. The way out from all the ghosts that had been chasing me for months. I am really looking forward to reading her book and yours Rachel, both of you helped me, directly or indirectely to get over that long nightmare. I will never have enough words to thank gill and you and, of course as well, all KCU.

April 05, 2007 8:58 am  
Blogger Geoff said...

Rachel thank you for this truly inspiring post. Will order the book.

April 05, 2007 9:55 am  
Blogger Holly Finch said...

gill has been an inspiration to so many people, myself included, her strength & dignity has been overwhelming and she is truly an exceptional person, i too have been honoured to meet her so congratulations gill & thanks for posting rach

April 05, 2007 6:36 pm  
Blogger het said...

I have never been to visit you before and I hope my intrusion is not a nuisance... but I would like to add that this post really got to me and made me think long and hard, and I gulped a few times in the middle... thankyou for letting me read it,,,thankyou


April 05, 2007 9:17 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

rachel,may your god go with you and gill and all those affected by the monstrosity better known as 7/7.ignorance and intolerance must be beaten and with people like you and gill around hope and harmony will prevail.thank you for inspiring me.

April 13, 2007 11:57 am  

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