I first met Philip Nelson of the 7/7 Tavistock Square Memorial Trust in the spring of 2012. He was introduced to me by a lovely lady named Esther who was working with Philip to source a venue to host an inaugural lecture which had a mission to spread the news of the positive work being done in counter terrorism and with an ultimate aim to raise funding for a memorial to be erected in Tavistock Square.
BMA House was an obvious location, being the site at which the number 30 bus blast occurred and in which a young lady named Miriam Hyman lost her life. Esther is Miriam's sister and feeling the need to do something approached her then GP, a member of the BMA, to see if he could assist. And so it was agreed, BMA House was an ideal location for this event and work began on the inaugural lecture.
The first lecture was scheduled for the evening of Monday July 2nd 2012. A deliberate decision was made not to host the event on the anniversary of 7/7 itself. The guest list included government officials, representatives of the emergency services involved on the day, survivors and families of those who lost loved ones. The lecture was open not just to those involved here at Tavistock Square, but to all those affected across all 4 sites on the morning of Thursday July 7th 2005.
I quickly got to know Esther and Philip during our numerous planning meetings; the date for the inaugural lecture came round quickly and before I knew it I was introduced to Esther’s family and others who had lost loved ones.
The inaugural lecture was a big success, with over 200 guests attending, and Baroness Helena Kennedy QC as the headline speaker. Local and national press covered the story with a small slot on the ITV evening news at 6 o’clock. In the years to follow the lecture has continued to be held annually to remember those who lost their lives and continue to spread the word on the positive counter terrorism work being done. Continuing to attract a high profile, in its second year the 2013 guest speaker was Lord Blair who was of course the Metropolitan Police Commissioner at the time of the bombings.
By far the most inspirational speaker I have ever heard, was the 2014 guest Martine Wright. Martine lost both of her legs in the blast at Aldgate and is now a sitting volleyball player who played for Team GB in the 2012 London Paralympics. It was hard not to show emotion listening to her incredibly candid talk of her experience during those initial months after the blast and in rebuilding her life in the years to come. You cannot fail to admire her strength and tenacity, her positivity embodies all that is good in life.
And finally in 2015, the 10 year anniversary since the bombings brought with it a different style of event. The London Mayor’s office and GLA (Greater London Authority) were busy arranging their own events for the capital, and Philip Nelson ensured the lecture was a key part of the programme. I was privileged to meet Dame Tessa Jowell, the Culture Secretary at the time of the bombings, and witnessed first-hand her upmost respect for humanity. Plans for this year’s lecture were bigger and better than ever before with Dame Tessa as keynote speaker and an enhanced media coverage going out across the UK networks and even to the USA. The BMA was also invited to select representatives to attend ceremonies taking place on 7/7 itself both at Tavistock Square and St Pauls Cathedral where a memorial service was held with nearly 2,000 attendees.
This year’s lecture took place on Monday 4th July. BBC news correspondent June Kelly, who reported throughout the events at the time, was the keynote speaker this year. Numbers in attendance continued to be above 200. I was delighted to hear that the trust are close to securing their required funds for the memorial in Tavistock Square and look forward to seeing the plans progress.
The world of events generally revolves around happy occasions but there are times when events make you stop and think, this event is certainly one of those occasions. I have met many inspirational and courageous people who have been affected in one way or another by the events of 7/7. I continue to be in contact with Esther, and know her Mum well. I have worked with them on standalone events to raise money for their own charities dedicated to Miriam. I know they are both grateful for the opportunity to come to BMA House and visit the sun-dial memorial in the BMA garden where the peace and quiet offers them the opportunity to reflect.
Find out more about the 7/7 Tavistock Square Memorial Trust