12:00pm Monday 25th July 2005
SHE was in Russell Square when the London bus bomb went off nearby.
But York student Giselle Richards would not let her experiences prevent her returning to London less than a fortnight later... to attend a Buckingham Palace garden party, which took place before the capital was rocked by a second terror alert last Thursday when four bombs failed to explode.
Giselle, 20, from St Helena, in the South Atlantic, is taking a degree in counselling at York St John's College. She told today of her two very contrasting trips to the capital.
She travelled to London earlier this month to attend a three-day youth conference at the Commonwealth Policy Studies Unit in Russell Square.
It was on the conference's second day when she suddenly heard the sound of the bomb exploding on the top deck of a bus in nearby Tavistock Square.
"It was a big, loud bang," she said. "We didn't know what it was, but thought at first it must have been an accident on a construction site."
After discovering the truth, she was stunned. "It was a big shock. I had been expecting something was going to happen at some stage, but not during my visit."
She decided it was important to let her York boyfriend, Mario Anthony, and her parents back in St Helena know she was all right before they saw about the bombings on TV. But she could not get a signal on her mobile, and was only able to make contact after being allowed to use a landline.
Giselle said that after the bomb went off, she was told to remain in the building with the windows shut and continue with the course, while the square outside was cordoned off. "It was deadly silent. It was quite scary really." At the end of the day, she had to walk out through the cordon, but was not allowed near the bombed bus.
She said she had had no hesitation in returning to London for the palace garden party, to which she was invited because she is attending university on a scholarship from St Helena, a British Overseas Territory. She went by taxi to the palace from Kings Cross, rather than take the Tube, and enjoyed the event, which was attended by members of the Royal Family, including the Queen, Prince Charles and Camilla. "It was a very nice day," she said.
Updated: 10:55 Monday, July 25, 2005
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