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.''
'extract from 'Priority One', One Unknown by Gill Hicks
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.