July 7 bombing victim’s peace message for Newham

A message from a victim of the 7/7 London bombings was the moving keynote at a commemoration staged by Newham youngsters.

It was from Dr. Gill Hicks, currently recovering from surgery in her native Australia. She lost both legs in the 2005 terror attacks.

Gill’s message, specially written for the gathering, was delivered by David Taylor, chairman of Bridge Builders in Unity, the multi-cultural charity that ran the event with the Newham-based Renewal Programme at the Hartley Centre, East Ham, on Saturday

East Ham MP Stephen Timms and Canon Ann Easter, CEO of the renewal programme, were among the community and faith leaders who joined young people for readings, reflections, music and dance that commemorated the 52 dead and 700 injured in the bus and Underground suicide blasts.

Gill Hicks, who was the last living victim rescued, said: “Seven years ago I was simply on my way to work when the actions of a 19-year-old boy changed my life and those around me forever.”

Since the tragedy she has campaigned against violence with inspirational speaking and writing and through her charity Mad For Peace. Gill, who was fitted with prostheses and has since married, admired the “brilliance of humanity” in those who saved her life.

She wrote: “I have chosen not to hold hatred at the core of my life. But rather to honour the fact that I am here - by taking the lead of my greatest role models: the paramedics, the police, the doctors and nurses who never gave up trying to save One Unknown.”

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In her message to the young people of Newham, she said : “In seven years time I would like to believe that each of you not only choose peace, but do peace in your every day – and that these actions would, in turn, encourage others to act as you do.”

Gowri Thamotharampillai, project co-ordinator at Bridge Builders, said: “The day was not just about the July 7 bombings. Bridge Builders think of it as a wake up call to the whole nation to change the things that need to be changed and move on.

“Young bridge builders also spoke about the need for loyalty to Britain as well as the country of origin, the need to be comfortable with their identity and respecting others and the difference between what their parents faced and what they face, especially if they are immigrants.”