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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 February 2006, 17:57 GMT
Proud day for 7 July bomb heroes
By Claire Heald
BBC News

Peterkin family at Buckingham Palace
Emergency workers' families joined them at the Palace
Twenty people who helped in the aftermath of the 7 July London suicide bombings have received their awards from the Queen at Buckingham Palace.

Tube and bus, hospital and police staff told the BBC News website about their role on the day and their feelings on collecting their awards.


Inspector Stephen Mingay was the first police officer to reach the bombed tube train on the Piccadilly Line. He felt the bomb go off as he stood at the top of the escalator and went to the scene.

He raised the alarm, evacuated passengers and went to the first carriage, where the bomb went off, to help the seriously injured.

Inspector Stephen Mingay
Survivors remember Insp Mingay's voice in the dark tube train

"I knew when I got on the train that there could have been secondary devices, " he says. "I knew there was a risk of it being chemical, biological radiation or nuclear.

"If it had been one of those scenarios, I was probably already contaminated, the best thing I could do was give information to others that were going to have to go down."

He is modest about how brave he was: "Or stupid. It's what the training is there for. I had a job to do, a function to perform, I had to do those things."

But it was his words: "Ladies and gentleman, I am a police officer," when he first entered the carriage, that calmed those who he evacuated and let them know someone had come to help.

"That's what they say they remember," he smiles. "In situations like that people are looking for someone to take control. Everyone cooperated, without the cooperation, I couldn't have evacuated them as quickly and efficiently.

Receiving his honour from the Queen was "nerve-wracking" but she was "wonderful", he added.


Tube driver John Boyle was taking a detour through Aldgate on his way to work when the Circle Line train bomb went off.

As a former station inspector who knew "every nook and cranny" of the line at Aldgate, he believes it was fate that put him there, to guide shocked passengers out along the track.

John Boyle
John Boyle says fate put him at Aldgate station that day

Despite witnessing the grim bomb scene, he helped people walk down the track to safety at Aldgate and went on to evacuate another train stuck at Aldgate East.

At the palace, he said: "I thought I'd never get that close to the Queen in my lifetime. Twice in one day, that's unbelievable.

"She's obviously done her homework because she knew I was off-duty on the day. She said I was very courageous."


Constable Deborah Russell-Fenwick ran to the scene of the Tavistock Square bus bomb from Tottenham Court Road station, where she was on duty.

Deborah Russell-Fenwick
PC Russell-Fenwick ran to help at Tavistock Square

She was the first police officer on the scene and tried to get to a man trapped in the bus wreckage, but could not because of the way it had been damaged. She does not know what happened to him.

"I just started assessing people that were injured, on the ground."

The Queen asked her how long she had been in the police. "Twenty-five years. But nothing prepares you for that," she says.


Line manager Tim Wade was also on his way to work on the Tube when the Kings Cross bomb went off. For two hours evacuated passengers and then helped those in the "mayhem" of the first train carriage.

Tim Wade and grandfather Ray
Tim Wade was proud to bring his family to the palace

He brought his parents and his "terrifically proud" 89-year-old grandfather Ray to the palace to witness him receive his MBE.

Mr Wade paid tribute to colleagues who have been too traumatised by what they saw to return to work yet.

"I'm proud I'm here today. We've all said we are here to represent colleagues who weren't so fortunate."


As staff put their emergency training into practice at the attack scenes, Julie Dent was heading to a control centre to co-ordinate the capital's health service response.

Julie Dent
Julie Dent says she concentrated on being professional

She oversaw the operation that treated 750 walking wounded hurt in the attacks and 100 admitted to hospital.

Staff, she says, had to put the human aspect aside have professional detachment to deal with the situation. Some of those who had loved-ones in the four blast areas but could not contact them found it hard.

"I wasn't emotional until a week later when we had a service a week later at the London Ambulance Service. We had prayers and people cheered the service.

"That was it. It's a long time later that it catches up with you."


Julia Peterkin was the senior sister in charge on the Intensive Care Unit at The Royal London Hospital when her bleep alarm went off to notify her of the incoming wounded.

The hospital took the most patients from the bombings. It treated 208 in Accident and Emergency and 27 of the most seriously injured were admitted.

Julia Peterkin
Julia Peterkin has high praise for her team at Royal London Hospital

In ICU, Julia led the team who cared for seven patients with blast injuries including amputations and shrapnel.

"The team was outstanding," she says. "They just rallied and made my job incredibly easy. Everyone was calm and got on with what they were asked to do in an efficient manner.

"Psychologically, you can have all the plans in place, but for the staff to see that level of injury on so many people at once... but they carried on regardless to do the best job they could, and for days afterwards. "


Alan Dell says it was the experience of his team at the London Buses control room that ensured a professional response following the bomb blast on a bus at Tavistock Square.

Alan Dell
Alan Dell's team took the call to say bus had been bombed

He was there when news came through from another bus driver that it had blown up and co-ordinated getting people out of central London amid the disruption that followed.

Looking around at his emergency service colleagues, he said it was nice to be at the palace "but it brings back some bad memories".

"On the day you deal with the event, you don't realise what you have been dealing with until afterwards. There's a lot of people who aren't lucky enough to be standing here today."


Instinct, says group station manager Peter Sanders, told him the incident was more than a power surge as he stood at Kings Cross when the bomb went off.

Peter Sanders
Peter Sanders organised the response at Kings Cross

It was his job to co-ordinate the response - including the passenger evacuation and getting first-aiders down onto the Piccadilly Line train.

He said: "The escalators had stopped. We went down and saw people coming out with their skin blackened and clothes missing. It was quite horrific."

He praised his team but says it was hard for some of them to come back to work after dealing with the blast.

"The team was excellent, I can't praise them enough, they did so well on the day," he said.


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