THE BLOG
07/07/2015 13:49 BST | Updated 07/07/2016 06:59 BST

Reflections on 7/7 and the Children Who Never Came Home

Sitting in St Paul's Cathedral on the morning of 7 July, I was surrounded by the families of the victims of the 7/7 bombings. They were such ordinary looking people, a cross section of those who could be in the cathedral to pray, who had come inside as curious visitors or should be outside in the sunshine having popped out of their office to grab a coffee on buzzing Paternoster Square.

I was actually sitting next to Mavis and Esther Hyman, mother and younger sister of the 31-year-old Tavistock Square bus bombing victim Miriam Hyman. I had met Mavis and Esther on the previous evening at the launch of a collection of Miriam's vibrant paintings at City Hall.

During the ceremony in the majesty of St Paul's, my thoughts turned to the ways families of murdered young people have coped with their devastating loss. Through my work over 25 years as a founder and Vice President of the Anne Frank Trust UK, a charity borne out of Anne's grieving father's belief in the power of education to combat hatred, I have had the privilege of meeting and spending time with quite a few of these extraordinary people, all of whose normal lives became extraordinary because of separate acts of violent brutality.

As the 7/7 families hugged each other inside, and outside, the cathedral, nodding to each other in tearful support, I saw people who had all experienced an ordinary day turning into the worst possible nightmare of any parent, spouse or sibling.

Esther told me how the tenth anniversary date had very little emotional impact - it was just a day like the 3,649 tough ones that had gone by since 2005. However she and her redoubtable mother had used the opportunity to talk publicly through media interviews about their beloved Miriam. They also spoke about the materials for schools which had been developed by the Miriam Hyman Memorial Foundation, encapsulating Miriam's vision of a diverse and respectful world. Those teaching tools will go on to do a vital job.

I was reminded of the Anne Frank Trust's long time association with Doreen and Neville Lawrence, whom I have known since 1996, when we created panels for the Anne Frank exhibition on Stephen's childhood and teenage years. I witnessed the foundation and establishment of the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust. I have also spent time with Barry and Margaret Mizen, parents of Jimmy; George and Debbie Kinsella, parents of Ben; Sylvia Lancaster, mother of Sophie; Gee Walker, mother of Anthony; and Grace Idowu, mother of David. These remarkable people have all turned the most profound and unbearable tragedy, the senseless killing of their beloved children, into tools for teaching young people about how to be a good human being.

Two weeks ago, the Anne Frank Trust held a memorable opening event for the Anne Frank exhibition in Birmingham. During the evening, our West Midlands regional manager Donna Magher had chaired an interview with both Mindu Hornick, the last Holocaust survivor living in Birmingham, and Mohammad Nawaz, whose teenage son had been killed during the Peshawar school massacre last December. His middle son had been shot and wounded, and had been flown to the same hospital in Birmingham that had treated Malala Yousafzai. It was an unforgettable evening hearing these two stories, which had happened a continent and 70 years apart. Donna was thrilled with the congratulations she received for putting on such a marvelous and event.

That elation was soon to disappear. Just two days later, Donna learned that her best friend Suzy had lost three generations of her family - her father, brother and son - in the Tunisian beach massacre. It happened far away but still so close to home. To families who are starting on the same long path of suffering as the Hyman family, who will go on counting the days since their family never came home.

After the St Paul's Cathedral ceremony, I told Mavis that what she was doing with the foundation in her daughter Miriam's name was truly wonderful. She looked at me, sighed and quietly said: "It's the way I survive."

At the Anne Frank Trust we understand that more than most people. It is exactly the reason Otto Frank devoted the second half of his life to promoting his daughter Anne's diary into a force for good. With such good people, turning the worst into the best, we will all surely prevail.