Melton terror attack survivor helps raise thousands in memory of London victim

Holly Jones, with boyfriend Conor Turner, pictured at the Eiffel Tower in Paris after completing a fundraising cycle from London Bridge EMN-190628-125355001
Holly Jones, with boyfriend Conor Turner, pictured at the Eiffel Tower in Paris after completing a fundraising cycle from London Bridge EMN-190628-125355001
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A Melton woman who took part in a cycle ride to Paris in memory of a victim of the 2017 London Bridge and Borough Market terrorist attack says the eight people who lost their lives that night were in everyone’s thoughts throughout the journey.

Holly Jones (28) is stll coming to terms with cheating death in the terriying incident where three Jihadis in a van mowed down pedestrians on the bridge yards away from her before they got out and stabbed others in the market.

The cyclists who pedalled from London to Paris in memory of terrorist attack victim Sara Zelenak EMN-190628-102844001

The cyclists who pedalled from London to Paris in memory of terrorist attack victim Sara Zelenak EMN-190628-102844001

One of the eight people killed was 21-year-old Australian au pair, Sara Zelenak, whose parents, Mark and Julie, are setting up holistic healing centres to support people suffering traumatic grief as a result of a sudden or violent death.

They took part in the cycle to Paris with Holly and around 40 others, including many with a personal connection to the terrorist attack, to raise money for the centres.

Before setting off from Borough Market, they all laid roses at the spot where Sara was murdered and Holly was hugged by Christine Delcros, a French woman whose boyfriend, Xavier Thomas, was killed in the incident on the bridge and who has since become a close friend.

Holly, who grew up in Melton and whose family live in Scalford, said: “It was a highly emotional ride, we continually spoke about the victims and people shared their memories.

Holly Jones and her boyfriend, Conor Turner, with former England cricket star, Monty Panesar, who also took part in the fundraising cycle to Paris EMN-190628-102814001

Holly Jones and her boyfriend, Conor Turner, with former England cricket star, Monty Panesar, who also took part in the fundraising cycle to Paris EMN-190628-102814001

“It’s important to keep the memory alive of those eight people that died so that they didn’t die in vain.

“It also sends the message to extremists and terrorists that they will never win.

“When they did this they tried to divide us – but it didn’t work, it did the opposite – we are all united in grief but creating something positive from tragedy.”

She added: “Before we set off, Mark and Julie gave a speech and it was incredibly moving.

Holly Jones with Julie Zelenak, whose daughter was killed in the Borough Market terrorist attack in 2017 EMN-190628-102834001

Holly Jones with Julie Zelenak, whose daughter was killed in the Borough Market terrorist attack in 2017 EMN-190628-102834001

“I found myself getting quite upset at that point and many people were in tears.

“I’ve come a long way but it definitely still affects me that night.”

Holly, who is now a BBC journalist based in London, cycled to Paris alongside boyfriend, Conor Turner, and many people who had not previously met.

She said there were big characters who helped people relax in each other’s company, including an Australian man who wore bright pink clothing and pedalled with a large inflatable dinosaur on his back.

Holly Jones is hugged by Christine Delcros (right), whose partner was killed in the London Bridge terrorist attack, before the cycling fundraisers set off for Paris EMN-190628-102824001

Holly Jones is hugged by Christine Delcros (right), whose partner was killed in the London Bridge terrorist attack, before the cycling fundraisers set off for Paris EMN-190628-102824001

“A rider that really stuck out was a lady called Averill from Sydney,” said Holly.

“She didn’t know anyone on the ride, but saw it advertised on Australian TV and wanted to get involved.

“She lost her 24-year-old, only son, a month before the terror attack to a brain aneurism, and she was so positive and inspirational.

“Everyone riding was doing it for a reason and the atmosphere was electric.”

The group cycled to the south coast before crossing the channel for the French part of the journey. Holly said the hardest part was between East Grinstead and Brighton, with a huge hill, Ditching Beacon, needing to be negotiated.

She added: “At the end of day one and beginning of day two I was very saddle sore, but after a few hours in on day two I forgot about it and didn’t notice it for the rest of the trip – you get used to the pain.

Holly Jones takes a break en route to Paris with the 'Meet You In Paris' charity fundraising team EMN-190628-102804001

Holly Jones takes a break en route to Paris with the 'Meet You In Paris' charity fundraising team EMN-190628-102804001

“At the end of day two I hadn’t eaten enough carbohydrates, and I was completely exhausted, I could hardly string a sentence together, but after food I was fine.

“In general, though, I absolutely loved doing it – I was so scared and nervous about it to begin with but after day one I was completely buzzing.”

It took Holly and the group three days to reach the Eiffel Tower.

The total raised so far for the Sarz Sanctuaries - named after Sara’s affectionate nickname - is $123,000 Australian, with Holly raising $7,381 on her own.

The cycle fundraiser is named ‘Meet You In Paris’ because Sara was due to meet up with her parents in the French capital a few weeks after the day she died.

Go to meetyouinparis.everydayhero.com/au/holly to sponsor Holly.