NEWS
22/04/2019 21:17 BST | Updated 23/04/2019 04:37 BST

Sri Lanka Explosions: Retired Firefighter And His Partner Killed In Bomb Attacks

"This is devastating."

Former firefighter Bill Harrop and his partner Dr Sally Bradley, from Manchester, have been named as among the eight British people killed in the Easter Sunday terror attacks in Sri Lanka.

The couple had been holidaying in the country when they died.

Assistant county fire officer Dave Keelan, of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, paid tribute to his former colleague.

He said: “This is devastating news and the thoughts of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service are with Bill and Sally’s families.

“Bill served here for 30 years, retiring at the end of 2012. He was a much a loved and respected colleague and friend. He will be greatly missed.”

Dr Bradley, who moved to Western Australia in 2012, was the director of clinical services at Rockingham Peel Group in Perth.

 

Facebook
Bill Harrop and Sally Bradley.

Executive director Kathleen Smith told 6PR radio: “She absolutely loved living in Australia. She felt very at home here.

“They (Dr Bradley and Mr Harrop) were soulmates, they just lived for each other.

“He had two boys, which Sally took on as her step-sons. She talked about them as if they were her own.”

One son, Gavin, was staying at a different hotel in Sri Lanka at the time of the blast.

Smith said Dr Bradley told her they were staying at a “posh” hotel for a few days, then would move to other parts of Sri Lanka.

She said the sociable and adventurous couple did not usually stay at five-star hotels.

“She would normally get out amongst the community that she was visiting,” Ms Smith said.

Earlier, it was confirmed British woman Anita Nicholson and her two children had died in the wave of terror attacks.

Nicholson’s husband Ben was the only member of the family to survive the blast at the Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo - one of seven locations targeted by terrorists.

Local media reported Nicholson desperately searching for his wife and children Alex, 14, and Annabel, 11, after the explosion.

It had been believed that Alex may have survived, but Mr Nicholson confirmed on Monday afternoon that all three were killed.

Facebook
Alex, Anita, Annabel and Ben Nicholson.

The family had been visiting Sri Lanka for a holiday from their home in Singapore.

Mrs Nicholson was a lawyer for mining and metals company Anglo American, while Mr Nicholson is a partner with law firm Kennedys.

Mr Nicholson said in a statement: “Following reports in the media over the past 36 hours, my family and I wish to confirm that my wife Anita, our son Alex, 14, and our daughter Annabel, 11, were killed in the bombing of the restaurant of the Shangri-La Hotel, Colombo, on Sunday morning while sitting at our table. Mercifully, all three of them died instantly and with no pain or suffering.

“I am deeply distressed at the loss of my wife and children. Anita was a wonderful, perfect wife and a brilliant, loving and inspirational mother to our two wonderful children.

“The holiday we had just enjoyed was a testament to Anita’s enjoyment of travel and providing a rich and colourful life for our family, and especially our children.

“Alex and Annabel were the most amazing, intelligent, talented and thoughtful children, and Anita and I were immensely proud of them both and looking forward to seeing them develop into adulthood.

“They shared with their mother the priceless ability to light up any room they entered and bring joy to the lives of all they came into contact with.”

He thanked medical teams at General Hospital in Colombo for assisting him after the attack, as well as the British High Commission and holiday company Adhvan Tours.

“Anita, Alex and Annabel leave behind a large extended family and many close and cherished friends who are now grieving this tragic loss. We shall all miss them dearly,” he said.

“We are all grateful for the many expressions of support and good wishes. We would ask that the media now respect our privacy and allow us to grieve together.”

Here is what we know so far:

- Six nearly simultaneous explosions at three churches and three hotels took place at Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa on Easter Sunday.

- In Colombo, St Anthony’s Shrine and the Cinnamon Grand, Shangri-La and Kingsbury hotels were targeted in the first wave of explosions.

- Other blasts were reported at St Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, a majority Catholic town north of Colombo, and at Zion Church in the eastern town of Batticaloa.

- Three police officers were killed when they went to question suspects following a tip.

- There were two further explosions later at a guesthouse in Dehiwala and near an overpass at Dematagoda on the outskirts of Colombo.

- Sri Lankan officials have described it as a terrorist attack by religious extremists. Most of the eight blasts are suspected suicide attacks.

- Police will examine reports that the intelligence community failed to detect or warn of possible suicide attacks as part of their investigation.

- Five Britons, including two people holding joint US and British nationalities, are among the 290 people dead.

- Among the Britons feared dead are Anita Nicholson, 42, and her 11-year-old son Alex.

- There are also US, Turkish, Indian, Portuguese, Dutch and Chinese victims among the 27 foreign nationals killed.

- More than 500 people have been injured.

- Thirteen suspects have been arrested, according to officials. No-one has taken responsibility for the massacre.

- Sri Lankan authorities blocked access to many social media services in the wake of the attack, with Facebook, YouTube and WhatsApp all affected.

- A nationwide curfew was imposed from 6pm to 6am and has since been lifted.