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Reflections on the Brighton Bomb

~ Personal post from Leah Thomas, MD at Blue Flamingo.  LT does not have a personal blog, hence posting here. ~

October 12th 2014 marks 30 years since the Brighton Bomb, when the IRA blew up the Grand Hotel (Brighton) where the Conservative Party Conference members were staying.

As director of Press and Communications for the Conservative Party and Conference Producer, my father (Harvey Thomas) was in room 729, the room above the bomb.   At 2:55 am, he flew up one floor, and down ‘three and a bit’ floors.  He landed on a steel girder, and was buried under ten tonnes of rubble, rescued by tremendous firemen at 5:35 am.

He survived with scratches and bruises, had six baths at the hospital, never went into shock, and continued as normal at the conference.

Five people lost their lives that day, and Norman and Margaret Tebbit and John Wakeman were terribly injured.

Recently, for an upcoming BBC programme, I met the fireman who rescued my father.  They went beyond the call of duty, risking their own lives.  I owe them so much.

L-R: Ken Towner (he physically dragged  my  Father out from rubble) Father, Me, Fred Bishop (shift supervisor, rescue co-ordinator), Mick Ayling (heard my father's shout for help so rescue could begin)

L-R: Ken Towner (he physically dragged my Father out from rubble) Father, Me, Fred Bishop (shift supervisor, rescue co-ordinator), Mick Ayling (heard my father’s shout for help so rescue could begin)

We are a strong Christian family, believing in Christ’s death and resurrection and the forgiveness of our sins.  My father was convicted to write to Pat Magee, the bomber, telling him he had forgiven him for what he did.  This lead to a remarkable relationship, and we would now call him a family friend.  He is one of the most quietly academic men I’ve ever met.  Whilst I do not condone his actions, it has been interesting to learn of the troubles, and to see different perspectives.  Pat now works in reconciliation work.

Family Thomas in full on Tory mode. L-R: Marlies Thomas, Lani Charlwood, Harvey Thomas, Leah Thomas

Family Thomas in full on Tory mode. L-R: Marlies Thomas, Lani Charlwood, Harvey Thomas, Leah Thomas

 

I was born 6 days later, and made the front page of The Times.  There had been so much hurt, the media were looking for a ‘happy’ story.

The Times, Saturday October 20th 1984

The Times, Saturday October 20th 1984

 

This ‘story’ is a very normal part of my life.  The only thing that really makes this real for me (I am an eternal optimist) is seeing the footage (below) of my father being dragged out of the rubble.  I am incredibly thankful for the firemen who rescued my father, the policemen, the hospital staff.  Without them we would not be the family we are today, and we are a very tight unit.

~LT