The Independent London Newspaper
29th August 2014

Letters

'It's a huge honour': 7/7 survivor who lost her legs in terror attack will carry Olympic torch through Camden

Gill Hicks

Published: 22 March, 2012
by WILLIAM McLENNAN

A SURVIVOR of the 7/7 bombings who lost both legs is among the handful of people selected to carry the Olympic torch through Camden this summer.

Gill Hicks, who dedicated her life to promoting peace after the terror attack, was nominated for her charity work with Peace Direct and her own charity M.A.D (Making a Difference) for Peace.

Ms Hicks, who was born in Australia but now lives in Somers Town, said: “It’s a huge honour. I landed in London 20 years ago and I am a very proud Londoner.

“This symbolises my affection for London and it’s a great source of pride that it’s in Camden. I’m filled with pride.”

The 16 torchbearers will each carry the flame for 300 metres through Camden on July 26, the day before it arrives at the Olympic Stadium.

In 2005 a suicide bomber blew up a Piccadilly line Tube travelling between King’s Cross and Russell Square, killing 28 people.
Ms Hicks was on the busy train making her way to work at the Design Council in Covent Garden.

She lost both legs in the blast and around 75 per cent of her blood drained from her body as she lay in the wreckage of the train.

Speaking about the bombing she told the New Journal: “Firstly, I’ve come through this. It’s not for me to say if it’s extraordinary or not, but I think the greatest gift I’ve been given is a lack of hatred.

“It meant I could go forward to use my life to honour what I had been given, to look at how atrocities keep happening throughout the world.”

Julie Siddiqi of the Islamic Society of Britain said Ms Hicks was the first person that came to mind when she heard you could nominated someone for the honour.

Ms Siddiqi said: “She is amazing in terms of her approach to life. She has no hatred for what happened to her.

“I’m really glad she got selected to carry the torch. From a Muslim perspective we completely condemn anything that happened on 7/7. We all have to stand up to these people.”

She added: “Symbolically, that Ms Hicks is able to walk through London is amazing.

“Not only is she living, but she is living in a positive, proactive way.”

Ms Hicks, who has learnt to walk using prosthetic legs and founded M.A.D for Peace in 2007, is an ambassador for UK charity Peace Direct, who support communities looking to build peace in war zones worldwide.

Carolyn Hayman OBE, Chief Executive of Peace Direct, said: “Gill’s ability to reach down inside herself and find strength to survive has been an inspiration to so many people, including the peace builders battling against conflict who she supports as Peace Direct’s ambassador.”

• The other 15 torchbearers for the Camden section of the route are Darren Fitzpatrick, 16; Danny McCubbin, 47; Elaine Mcknight, 42; Ellie Moss, 22; Fernando Goldberg, 50; Freya Cooper, 17; Jackie Brown, 29; Katie Ford, 25; Luke Corduner, 32; Maddalena Cannarsa, 37; Michele Griffiths, 47; Paris Walker, 16; Patrick De Maeseneire, 54; Permie Dadhiala, 40 and Sean Elkins, 40.

A burning issue: were the torch selections fuelled by organisers?

ALARM bells have been sounded over the number of torchbearers who have a connection to Olympic organisers and sponsors.

Tens of thousands of people were nominated for the 7,300 positions announced this week. The applicants were whittled down by regional committees whose job was to choose candidates that most accurately represent the local community.

Their mandate, according to organisers, was to select “inspirational people”, thus “enabling local communities
to shine a light on the best their area has to offer”.

Among the 16 individuals selected to represent Camden there are at least two people involved in organising the Olympics.

Councillor Jonathan Simpson said he was disappointed that more grass roots campaigners were not selected.

Cllr Simpson said: “I’m sure that the people sponsored have done great things – but it does seem a shame that some of Camden’s community activists were not chosen.”

He added: “I personally nominated Camden legend Peggy Conlon, who has given the first music break to thousands of musicians as the landlady of the Dublin Castle.

“It’s a shame that the Olympic organisers were not able to get more of a balance here.

“That said, I’ll be cheering everyone on when the torch comes through Camden.”

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