A survivor of the 2017 London Bridge and Borough Market terrorist atrocity is preparing to cycle from the scene of the attack to Paris in support of a charity inspired by the youngest victim.
Holly Jones (28), who grew up in Melton and whose parents live in Scalford, was only inches away from being killed as a van carrying three Jihadis hurtled past her and hit several other pedestrians on the bridge.
Eight people died, either by being hit by the vehicle or stabbed when the attackers ran into the market area looking for more victims, and a further 48 were injured, some very seriously.
One of those who died in the market was 21-year-old Australian au pair Sara Zelenak, who was set upon with a man who tried to help her up after she fell while trying to flee in high-heeled shoes.
Her devastated parents, Mark and Julie, are in the UK at the moment to attend the inquest into the deaths from the attack and they are also promoting their campaign to set up Sarz Sanctuary holistic healing centres in the UK and Australia to support people suffering traumatic grief as a result of a sudden or violent death. Sarz was the name they used to call their beloved daughter.
To raise money for the service, they are organising a bike ride from London Bridge to the Eiffel Tower on Sunday June 23. It’s called ‘Meet You in Paris’ because the parents had arranged to meet up with their daughter in the French capital just weeks after the attack.
Holly, who will be one of 35 taking part, told the Melton Times: “Sara’s family will be on the ride, there will be lots of other people from Australia, a couple of policemen who were on duty that night, people who were connected in some way to what happened.
“It’s going to be emotional for us all, I’m sure, but I am determined to do this for Sara and her family.
“I’ve become good friends with Mark and Julie and they are such good people.”
Holly has been one of the witnesses giving evidence at the inquests into the attack at the Old Bailey. She was able to describe the last moments in the life of French tourist, Xavier Thomas, who was hit by the van and catapulted into the Thames. His girlfriend, Christine Delcros, was severely injured and can only now walk with the aid of a stick. Holly has become a close friend of Christine and the pair intend to meet up again when the ride reaches Paris.
Holly said: “I was terrified about giving my evidence but the police were amazing and helped me to cope with it all.
“There was a momment when I got very emotional when it all hit me but I got through it.
“Knowing people like Christine and the families of the victims really helps because it is like a big family support unit.”
Holly, who is a BBC journalist working on the national news bulletins, regularly comes back to Melton to see family and friends.
She added: “It’s nice coming home because working in a newsroom with everything that happened to me it’s a bit like the elephant in the room.
“Colleagues are often reluctant to talk to me about it but when I go back to Melton people are always asking how I am doing and telling me they are so sorry about what happened.”
The aim is to raise 500,000 Australian dollars with the cycle ride with Holly hoping to contribute 2,000 on her own.
Go online at www.meetyouinparis.everydayhero.com/au/holly if you would like to sponsor her.