To mark the 10 year anniversary of the London 7/7 terrorist attacks, HuffPost UK is running Beyond The Bombings, a special series of interviews, blogs, in-depth features and exclusive research reflecting on how Britain has changed since.
It was a normal Thursday morning and I had to be at work at St Mary's Hospital early to take the minutes of the weekly meeting. There were delays on the Bakerloo Line, so I went a new route. Jubilee Line from Waterloo to Baker Street, where I got on the Circle Line train. I ran down the stairs at the station and was heading towards the crowd of people waiting to get onto one of the front carriages when I decided to check the back of the tube. There were fewer people waiting to get onto the last carriage so I sprinted down and got on there instead.
That was possibly one of the best decisions I've ever made.
I got a seat somewhere on the journey and settled down to read the Metro. I looked up at Edgware Road Station and made a note to get off at the next station. Suddenly there was an almighty bang, one of the manhole covers lifted off the floor (I'd never ever noticed they existed before!) and the train jerked to a stop.
We could hear screaming coming from the front of the train, a man. Everyone got up and moved to the back of the coach to escape the black smoke. People were trying to force the train doors open. Someone ran up and down the carriage trying to get near the front. A girl pulled the fire alarm. People were screaming, crying, panicking. I noticed a girl in tears next to me so offered her a tissue. We got talking. She was from a small town in France and had been in New York on 9/11 and couldn't believe it had happened again. Until then I had thought our train had "just" derailed. This girl was on her way to her first pregnancy scan and was worried she would be late. We spoke until they eventually opened the end door of our carriage and led us out along the tracks. I took her to the building where her scan was and dashed to the office to take the minutes of the meeting. All of a sudden the doctors' bleeps all went off and a major incident was declared. The doctors went to A&E, where possible, to help. I fell to pieces when I heard there had been other explosions and was given something for the shock. I tried frantically, as so many did, to reach my loved ones and left garbled, sobbing phone messages. For the rest of the morning the sound of sirens echoed up to my office. Later replaced by silence as London ground to a standstill and even the continuous trains at Paddington Station stood still. The doctors were shaken by what they'd seen and my manager drove me home after work with instructions to have a stiff drink and try to get some sleep.
I 'got back on the horse' and my now husband travelled with me the first time I got a Tube again - the next week. It was incredibly difficult. Luckily, my department was moving to another site and I didn't have to travel to Paddington for much longer. I suffered from nightmares and panic attacks and had counselling to help me cope. Nine years later I was working at St Mary's again and was stood in the same part of the building, on a different floor, when an ambulance came past. It had exactly the same sound as on that day. I crumbled. I live with a legacy. I no longer work in London. I panic if I have to take a new route on the tube but I make myself, with the help of rescue remedy and prayers. I often think of the French girl and wonder how she is doing. I've learnt to follow my instincts and not to take life for granted. I won't let them beat me.Suggest a correction