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Tuesday, May 4, 1999 Published at 19:05 GMT 20:05 UK


Soho struggles to look ahead

Well-wishers have laid flowers near the scene of the blast

The Soho community is struggling to put a weekend of tragedy behind it, and to look to the future for this most vibrant of areas.

The nail bomb terror

The physical signs of the destruction wrought by the nail bomb attack on the Admiral Duncan which killed three and left dozens injured can still be seen in the pub's boarded up front.

No-one wants to forget what happened here, or the terrible cost in lives lost and people left terribly scarred.

But as businesses opened up after the Bank Holiday weekend, the community that makes up London's bohemian heartland was making it clear that nothing had been done to destroy its spirit.

The attack, aimed at hurting the gay community which thrives in the streets around Soho square, has instead brought it closer together within itself, and also with the rest of Soho community, according to Nick Laurence, of the American Retro store in Old Compton Street.

The shop, popular with the gay community, is only yards from the scene of the blast.

[ image: Tears for those hurt]
Tears for those hurt
Mr Laurence said the mood in Soho was one of determination not to let the tragedy of Friday take anything away from the area.

He said: "I had heard reports saying that it might never return to the way it was before, but that has not been the feeling of anyone I've met over the weekend.

"There is a feeling that there is no way anyone would be allowed to cause that."

He said the spirit in Soho over the weekend had been one of "high resilience."

Mr Laurence said: "One of the real positive things to come out of this is that people's initial reaction has been one of humanity."

Troy Wear, owner of the popular gay bar Bar Code, said: "I live around here as well and it has been one of the strangest 72 hours I have ever spent in the place.

"It has been incredibly quiet, not so much in how many people were here but in the atmosphere.

"So many people have come in to meet their friends, to see if people were ok.

Service of remembrance

"You could see that people meeting friends were so pleased to see each other.

"People here are saying I'm not going to stop doing this."

The family of Andrea Dykes, who died in the blast along with two of her friends, visited Old Compton Street on Tuesday.

Francis Hogg and Andrea's sister Natalie laid flowers outside the Admiral Duncan pub. Andrea's husband, Julian, remains in a critical condition in hospital.

A service of remembrance will be held on Friday in the gardens of Soho's St Anne's church.

It will start at 1840BST - the time the bomb went off.

Clare Herbert, the rector of St Anne's, said:" In that act of proud reflection we very much hope the people of Soho, of this community which offers a welcome to so many people and which has been so badly shocked will come together with the other community that has been shocked and injured, the gay community."

In Soho Square, people from across London and beyond come to lay flowers for those killed and injured.

A community that is looking to the future also seems determined to show it cares, and will go on caring for the victims of Friday's bombing.

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