Monday, June 29, 2015

Unsung Heroes And Exceptional Acts Of Kindness

It's almost ten years since the horrendous 7/7 bombings in which 52 lives were needlessly taken, leaving the lives of family and friends shattered beyond belief. The heinous acts carried out on that day touched the lives of many people. A colleague  of mine Harry, a London Taxi Driver from North London, lost his beautiful wife Sue. 

But what always amazes me, in times of great deserter, is the way ordinary folk step up to the mark and everyday heroes arise from within the carnage, performing exceptional acts of heroism and kindness, then disappear back into the crowd. Reports came in the next morning of how groups of Taxi drivers aided by radio circuits, had given a free service, reuniting walking wounded and hard working emergency staff with their loved ones.

The events of 7/7 touched the lives of many, including that of my late wife Christine, who was working for TfL at the time. Along with her colleagues, she volunteered to stay at her post and worked through the night on a 36 hour shift. Part of the service they provided that day/night, was to try to identify victims from belongings found at the scene. My Christine received a silver award from TfL for services that day, but never traveled on the underground again.

A Church of England priest in Bristol, Julie Nicholson gave up her ministry soon after the attack and became known as ‘the vicar who couldn’t forgive’. Few would blame Julie for struggling to forgive the men who killed her daughter Jenny and 51 others on that day.

    Julie Nicholson. "is forgiveness always possible?"

As she mourned the death of her eldest daughter, Julie started to write down her thoughts, which later became the bestseller "A Song For Jenny", a reference to the madrigal A Silver Swan which was sung at Jenny’s funeral.

Below is an excerpt from her book that tells of an extraordinary act of kindness, performed by another unsung, everyday hero, when Julie came to London to attend the two minutes silence, held one week after the bombings.

She wrote:

This taxi drew up to drop someone off and as I went to jump in the back he told me he was going off duty. I begged him to take me to Paddington and I don’t know whether he saw the helplessness or the hopelessness in my face but he let me in. He asked me what I was in London for and when I told him he was very quiet for a little while. 

We pulled up outside the station and Paddington was very busy. 

He said, “Are you ready for this?” 

I replied, “I’ll be OK when I get on the train.” 

He then turned to me and said, “Why don’t you sit back where you are and I’ll drive you home.” 

And so he did. 

I was met in Reading by my sister and my cousin and when I asked how much I owed him he said, 

“You don’t owe me anything. Just remember there’s still goodness and kindness in the world. If you can do that then you’ve paid me.”

‘I never thought to ask him his name and I tried to find him for weeks. But I believe he wanted to be anonymous. This London Taxi driver, represented all the kindness that we as a family have received in bucketloads.’

A song for Jenny has now been made into a dramatic film which will be shown on BBC1 Sunday 5th July at 9pm.


Anonymous said...

Wonderful words Jimmy.
Like many of our colleagues, I was out there myself that dreadful day, and assisted the Police cordon at the bottom of Bernard Street.
Humanity sadly has extremes of actions both heinous and compassionate at times like these. What a wonderful man our colleague was who took the lady home to Reading. A typical action of our great trade and although I felt pride, it didn't surprise me to read it.
The world is a very precarious place these days, and London even more so.
With our security service MI5 threat level as currently severe, meaning an attack is highly likely, vigilance and care is paramount, especially in the job that we do. The harrowing task that your lovely wife was briefed to do Jim, was example of how special people are able to rise to threats of hatred and violence, in an effort to save and comfort others. My own daughter working in Special Branch on the French side of our tunnel, was attacked and injured for a fifth time last week, in an effort to hold back the filth and bile that infiltrate our civility, in frighteningly increasing numbers. Whist Government Politicians argue whose fault it was and use these incidents to score points with each other, it is our public, our colleagues and our families who put their necks on the line when it comes to call, each and every time. Our British bravado and unity is famous around the world for its ability to rise up when the chips are down, and it is for that reason, that as a Nation, we shall never be beaten ! My prayers and thoughts are with the surviving families of the cowardly attacks on the innocent in 2005. May they regain the strength and composure to carry on, living, loving and showing the filth who cast these acts on us, to be exactly what they are....Filth. God bless all of them. Semtex.

Jean said...

Jim, our trade is full of unsung heroes, drivers from the poppy cabs, war disabled fund, the fund for under privileged children and the Euro Disney trip.

Janet H said...

I have just watched A song for Jenny and, although it appears that they slightly changed the situation, the act of kindness carried out by that mystery taxi driver was beautiful. The fact that he remains anonymous makes it even more poignant.