UK

Tunisia attack: 'My hero husband'

Heroic tales of holidaymakers protecting loved ones and attempts to save lives have emerged from the inquest into the deaths of 30 British people killed in the Tunisia beach attack.

Gunman Seifeddine Rezgui opened fire indiscriminately at tourists on sunloungers on the beach at the five-star Hotel Rui Imperial Marhaba in Sousse on 26 June 2015.

These are their stories.


Charles Patrick Evans, Adrian Evans and Joel Richards

Image copyright PA
Image caption Grandfather Charles Patrick Evans, Joel Richards, 19, and his uncle Adrian Evans

Teenager Owen Richards tried to shield his grandfather during the Tunisia terror attack in which his brother and uncle were also killed.

Mr Richards, who was 16 at the time, was helping Charles Patrick Evans, 78, try to escape as gunman Seifeddine Rezgui hunted for victims at the beach hotel.

Mr Evans, his son Adrian Evans, 49, and Owen's brother Joel Richards, 19, were all shot dead at the Sousse beach resort.

The West Midlands family were enjoying the first day of their "jolly boys' outing", inspired by their favourite TV programme "Only Fools and Horses", when they heard gunshots from the direction of the beach.

They fled into the indoor pool area and as Rezgui approached, Mr Evans - known to his family as Pat - fell to the floor.

"I was hugging granddad on the floor and then I could see out of my right-hand corner my brother and seeing him dive to the floor," Mr Richards said.

"He lifted the gun up and I closed my eyes, then I heard a bunch of shots."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Teenager Owen Richards, pictured with his mother Suzanne, tried to shield his grandfather during the Tunisia terror attack

The four relatives had booked the holiday to celebrate Owen finishing his GCSE exams, his mother Suzanne Richards said.

Adrian Evans worked for Sandwell Council in Oldbury as a manager in the gas services department and Joel was a student at the University of Worcester and a keen football referee.

Mrs Richards said: "We take comfort that they stayed together in their last moments - protecting each other."


Carly Lovett

Image caption Liam Moore told the inquest that he tried to save his fiancee Carly Lovett during the attack

Liam Moore battled to save the life of his fiancee Carly Lovett during the attack, the inquest heard.

The couple ran from the beach into the hotel after hearing gunshots, and were hiding in a staff area. Mr Moore said: "We were standing close to each other, just hugging each other and holding each other's hands.

"Carly was saying that she was scared and I said I was too, but that we would get out of there."

The 24-year-old beauty blogger was then injured in an explosion.

"She said that shecouldn't move her legs and that shewas blacking out and she told me that she loved me and I told her that I loved her too," Mr Moore said.

He began CPR on her when she stopped responding.

Ms Lovett, from Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, had recently got engaged to Mr Moore, her childhood sweetheart of 10 years. This was the first couple's holiday together.

Her family described her as "a kind,caring, intelligent,beautifulwoman with a wicked sense of humour".


Stephen Mellor

Image copyright SWNS
Image caption Stephen and Cheryl Mellor had been relaxing on the beach when the gunman attacked

Cheryl Mellor said her "hero" husband Stephen, 59, sacrificed his life to protect her during the attack.

She told the inquest that her husband of 10 years climbed on top of her as they lay on the beach in between their sun beds when the gunman shot at them.

In her statement, read out at London's Royal Courts of Justice, Mrs Mellor said: "I am only here today due to the bravery of my husband, Steve.

"We were being shot and he protected me. Steve stayed and saved me. He sacrificed himself. Steve is a hero to me."

Yorkshire-born Mr Mellor, a father of three from Bodmin, Cornwall, died after being shot in the chest and abdomen.

Mrs Mellor, who was shot in the leg and wrist, suffered life-changing injuries.

Mr Mellor did not live to see the birth of his third grandchild, a boy called Thomas Stephen, who was named after him.

Sports fan Mr Mellor had a "huge interest" in golf and was "so well‐liked and respected" in the golfing community that a trophy has been presented in his name: "The Stephen Mellor Trophy".


Stuart Cullen

Image copyright Suffolk Police
Image caption Stuart Cullen's wife Christine tried to save his life during the attack

Christine Cullen tried to save the life of her husband, Stuart, after they were injured in an explosion.

A bomb had been thrown towards them by the gunman.

"I told him I could not stop the surge of blood. I told him I loved him and he told me he loved me. I knew he was dying," said Mrs Cullen, who was also on the floor with pain in her leg.

The inquest was told that the gunman then walked towards the couple, from Lowestoft, Suffolk, and despite Mrs Cullen's cries of "no, no", shot Mr Cullen.

Chelsea fan Mr Cullen worked for the prison service until a recurring knee problem prevented him from going back to work.

He medically retired from his job when his daughter, Emma-Jayne, was four years old.

Mrs Cullen said: "He made a full-time career of looking after the house and taking care of Emma, which enabled me to go out to full-time work.

"It was the mid-90s and for this to happen toa man was very hard and alonely job. However, he took this responsibility with pride, grace and great courage...

"Stuart loved life, his family and friends."


John Stollery

Image copyright PA
Image caption John Stollery ran towards the Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel with his wife Cheryl after hearing gunshots, the inquest heard

John and Cheryl Stollery passed a gunman dressed in black as they ran from the beach to the Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel, having heard gunshots, the inquest was told.

Mrs Stollery, from Walesby, Nottinghamshire, described how the gunman went past her before she turned around to see her husband on the floor.

"I screamed 'no' very loudly and 'John, John'. I went back up to him, stood over him and I could see from that moment he had already died," she said.

Mrs Stollery went on to hide in a phone booth for about seven minutes, before she was hidden in a laundry room by a man she recognised as the site gardener.

Social worker and "devoted husband and dad" Mr Stollery, 58, had worked at Nottinghamshire County Council for 33 years and spent the last 16 years working with children in care.

The couple were on a family holiday with their son, Matthew.


Chris Dyer

Image caption Gina Van Dort and her husband Chris Dyer tried to hide from the gunman

Gina Van Dort came face-to-face with the gunman as she and her husband Chris Dyer crouched behind a car in the hotel grounds, trying to hide.

But the gunman spotted the couple and shot them.

Mrs Van Dort, who was shot twice, said she pretended to be dead.

"He just walked towards us, shot us, walked over us, he didn't stop and pause, just shot and went," she said.

"I realised I was still alive.

"I closed my eyes, I stopped breathing - I was pretending to be dead. I remember counting three breaths, and it was over.

"When I couldn't hold my breath any longer, I opened my eyes."

Her husband, Chris, from Watford, Hertfordshire, died.

The 32-year-old electrical engineer consultant was a Watford Football club fan and a keen motorbike enthusiast. He was a member of the Watford Gracie Jiu-Jitsu club and had earned his blue belt.


Claire Windass

Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Claire Windass was shot in the attack

Jim Windass dragged his wife Claire off a sunbed and tried to protect her when the shooting began, the inquest heard.

He got on his hands and knees over Mrs Windass as the gunman continued past them into the Imperial Marhaba hotel.

"And that was basically it," he said. "I mean, there was no pulse. I closed her eyes."

Mr Windass said he then dived into the sea to hide behind a buoy for "two to three minutes" before he was picked up by "some guy in a speedboat" and taken to safety.

"[Claire's] caring nature would be prevalent throughout her whole life," a statement from her family said.

"Her career included over years of service to her local authority, North Lincolnshire Council.

"She was passionate about the work she did and extremely compassionate to those she cared for.

"It was as if she was made for this career as these attributes came naturally to her."

Mrs Windass, 54, who had two children and two step-children, lived in Scunthorpe for 35 years before moving to Hull in 2012 when she married Mr Windass.


James and Ann McQuire

Image copyright PA
Image caption James and Ann McQuire were shot by a hotel pool as they fled a gunman in Tunisia

James McQuire was injured in the terror attack but died on his way to hospital after a 20-minute wait in an ambulance, the inquest heard.

The 66-year-old and his wife Ann, 63, were shot near a hotel swimming pool. Mrs McQuire died at the scene.

The couple, who had been married for 43 years and were from Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire, were on their first holiday after retiring when they were shot at the beach resort.

The couple's son, Stuart McQuire, said they had been robbed of a happy retirement after decades of hard work.

Both Glasgow-born, Mr McQuire had been a shipyard engineer, and his wife a medical receptionist.

A statement from the couple's son said: "They shared a love of music, my dad played the guitar andso did my mum, however my dad's singing voice wasn't up to much while my mum was excellent.

"They played in a band called Tartan Spirits and would spend many nights rehearsing with their friends or playing for community groups."

A granddaughter born since their deaths was named Lily Ann in memory of Mrs McQuire, but her son said it was "heartbreaking" his parents would miss out on watching her grow up.


Lisa Burbidge

Image copyright PA
Image caption Lisa Burbidge was killed on the 10th anniversary of her husband Bill's death

Grandmother Lisa Burbidge died in the terror attack on the 10th anniversary of her husband's death.

The 66-year-old, from Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, was on holiday with three friends at the time of the attack.

She was on the beach with her friend Jennifer McDine when they heard gunshots.

Ms McDine hid behind her sunbed and glanced up to see a figure in black with a gun "just like the ones you see on the TV".

She then ran up the beach, thinking Mrs Burbidge was ahead of her, and hid inside a toilet cubicle in the hotel until the attack was over.

Mrs Burbidge's friends identified her body at the hospital mortuary by her toenail polish, the inquest was told, and a post-mortem examination found the grandmother died from a gunshot wound to the head.

A family statement said Mrs Burbidge had never got over the death of her husband, Bill, who died in 2005 after being diagnosed with cancer.

It said: "She was a beautiful person, a loving grandmother, mother, sister, daughter and best friend."


Philip Heathcote

Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Philip Heathcote was shot by the gunman

Philip and Allison Heathcote dived on to the sand by their sunbeds when they first heard the sound of gunshots on the beach, the inquest heard.

"I decided my best chance of survival was to act dead," said a statement from Mrs Heathcote, from Felixstowe, Suffolk, who survived five gunshot wounds.

"At the first opportunity I was asking Phil if he was all right. There was no response from Phil and I realised he had not made it."

Manchester United fan Philip, 53, died in the attack and Allison, 50, was in an induced coma for a month after the incident.

The Suffolk couple, who have one son, now 27, were in Tunisia to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary on 29 June.

"Phil was a very straightforward and honest man, called a spade a spade and said things as he saw them," Mrs Heathcote told the inquest.

"We both also loved to watch our son play sport as he grew up, Phil hardly ever missed a football match he played in."

Mr Heathcote was a traffic operator with Goldstar Transport.

"Phil was loved dearly by both his family in Manchester and my family," Mrs Heathcote said.


David Thompson

Image copyright Other
Image caption David Thompson was 80 when he died

David Thompson, who was 80 and the oldest victim of the attack, had been on holiday with his long-term partner, Anne Kear.

They were sitting by the hotel pool when Ms Kear heard a "horrific sound like a bomb", she said in a statement.

She started making her way to the hotel, along with a group of other holidaymakers, but realised Mr Thompson, a retired Atomic Weapons Establishment scientist, was not with her.

She said she was later taken to the hospital mortuary in Tunis to identify his body.

A post-mortem examination found Mr Thompson, from Tadley in Hampshire, died from gunshot wounds to the chest.


Bruce Wilkinson

Image copyright Handout
Image caption Bruce Wilkinson had previously visited Tunisia with his wife Rita

Rita Wilkinson was separated from her husband of 51 years, Bruce, during the attack and she hid inside a luggage room in the hotel reception.

The next time Mrs Wilkinson saw her 72-year-old husband, who had been sunbathing with her in the hotel grounds, he was lying dead on the ground.

He had been killed by a gunshot wound to his neck.

It was the second year in a row that the couple, from Goole in East Yorkshire, had stayed at the hotel.

Mr Wilkinson worked at Drax power station for 23 years and for the last 10 years of his life he drove patient transport ambulances for Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust.

Mrs Wilkinson said: "Bruce was a very caring man and often on the many fantastic holidays we enjoyed together, if anybody was taken ill he would always try to help make them better.

"So afterall theseyears I feel as though I have lost my best friend and my right arm."

The couple have two daughters.


Trudy Jones

Image copyright PA
Image caption Trudy Jones was described as a "beautiful person, inside and out"

Mum-of-four Trudy Jones, 51, was on holiday with friend Carol Anne Powell when the gunman struck.

Ms Powell, who survived the attack, said she "heard the most terrible explosion" behind her and then saw crowds of people running.

She said Ms Jones, from Blackwood in south Wales, had gone to the beach.

"I wanted to run towards the beach to check on Trudy, but people were running towards me shouting 'go, go'," Ms Powell said.

"I started to run towards the hotel with the crowds of people."

Ms Powell eventually decided to play dead in a hotel car park, where she was picked up by a man and carried to safety at a neighbouring hotel.

The family of Ms Jones said in a statement: "Trudy Jones was a loving mother of four children, nanny to eight grandchildren who all adored her, sister to two brothers and two sisters and daughter to her mother who she cared for in between work...

"She was a beautiful person inside and out, she would put everyone else's happiness before her own."


John and Janet Stocker

Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Grandparents John and Janet Stocker were sunbathing on the beach were they were shot dead

Grandparents John and Janet Stocker of Morden, south London, were frequent flyers who enjoyed travelling to new places, their family told the inquest.

In Tunisia, the couple met Anthony Miller who was on holiday with his wife Julie.

Mr Miller told the inquest that they were sunbathing on the beach when Mr and Mrs Stocker were shot dead. Mr and Mrs Miller survived after playing dead by lying on the sand.

Retired printer Mr Stocker, 74, was born in Peckham, south-east London, and was a "proud father of us five children and 10 grandchildren".

Mrs Stocker, 63, was born in Fulham, west London, and was described as a "fun-loving and devoted mother" who "loved nothing more than being around all of the grandchildren".

Mr Stocker went on to work for Sainsbury's until 2006, while Mrs Stocker also worked in Sainsbury's and in the local bingo hall.

"John and Janet Stocker died together doingwhat they enjoyed most; being sideby side," a statement from their family said.


Raymond and Angela Fisher

Image copyright FCO handout
Image caption Raymond and Angela Fisher were on their third trip to Tunisia

Raymond and Angela Fisher were months away from their 50th golden wedding anniversary were they were shot dead in the attack.

The Leicester couple, who had been together since they were about 15, were on their third trip to Tunisia. They had two children, Donna and Adam.

Their daughter, Donna Bradley, was the first relative to speak to the inquest in person.

She said: "Ray and Angie were total opposites.

"Ray was tall, skinny, handsome, loud, confident and easy going. Angie was petite, angelic, quiet, studious, serious and determined.

"In reality they were not suited on paper but the phrase opposites attract was certainly an apt description."

Ray retired at age 62, from his role as a caretaker and Angie retired at age 59, from a management role at a bank, before she returned part-time to hairdressing.

"Ray and Angie had always hoped for grandchildren. Up to their death this did not happen," Ms Bradley said.

"Nine months after Ray and Angie's death, Adam and Kate discovered that they were expecting.

"Little Fish, as the baby fondly became known, arrived two days before the Tunisian inquests began, on 14 January 2017."


Denis and Elaine Thwaites

Image copyright PA
Image caption The Thwaites' daughter Lindsey says she will "never get over this horrendous tragedy"

Denis and Elaine Thwaites, from Blackpool, Lancashire, were shot when gunman Seifeddine Rezgui opened fire at the five-star Rui Imperial Marhaba Hotel.

The couple's son-in-law Daniel Clifford read a statement on behalf of their daughter Lindsey at the inquest, which said: "I idolised my dad, looked up to him and loved him unconditionally. He was my shining light, my star.

"I will never get over this horrendous tragedy of losing both parents in this vicious and callous attack."

Former footballer Mr Thwaites, 70, broke into the Birmingham City first team at the age of 16 in 1961, and turned professional the following year.

The winger played several games in the First Division at the start of the 1962-63 season and remained at the club for more than 10 years.

Mr Clifford said his mother-in-law Elaine, 69, was like a "second mum and a great friend" to him.

He added: "She was beautiful inside and out, elegant and looked her best without even trying."


William and Lisa Graham

Image caption Lisa and Billy Graham were on holiday to celebrate their 31st wedding anniversary

Lisa and Billy Graham were in Tunisia to celebrate their 31st wedding anniversary when Seifeddine Rezgui struck.

The couple, from Bankfoot, Perth and Kinross, rushed into the hotel after hearing gunfire from the beach, the inquest heard, but they died from bullet wounds to the chest.

They were killed in the first floor administration area, police told the inquest.

The hearing heard that Mrs Graham, 50 - nicknamed "sun goddess" - was a very caring and thoughtful woman who loved to laugh.

Mr Graham, 51, worked as a turnstile operator on match days at St Johnstone FC's McDiarmid Park in Perth, having previously served for 22 years in the British army's 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards.

He was described as happy-go-lucky and a big joker who loved to make people laugh.

The couple had one child, Holly.


Sue Davey and Scott Chalkley

Image copyright Sue Davy and Chloe Fulford
Image caption Couple Scott Chalkley and Sue Davey had just bought a house together

Couple Scott Chalkley and Sue Davey had just bought a house together and were in Tunisia to celebrate that milestone in their relationship.

They were both shot by the gunman during the attack.

Mum-of-three Ms Davey, grew up in Stonydelph, Tamworth, Staffs, and was described at the inquest as "a doting nanny to her two granddaughters Matilda and Dollie".

The 43-year-old had met her partner Mr Chalkley, 42, at their workplace, Severn Trent Water.

"Despite being the eternal bachelor, Scott was smittenwith Sueand theyhad just made the step of buying a house together," a family statement said.

Lifelong Arsenal fan and dad-of-two Mr Chalkley, from Chaddesden, Derby, was described at the inquest as "well-known for his cockney pride, cheeky grin and infectious laugh".


Christopher and Sharon Bell

Image copyright PA
Image caption Christopher and Sharon Bell had been married for 35 years

Grandparents Christopher and Sharon Bell, 54, were shot dead close to the hotel swimming pool, the inquest heard.

The couple, from Leeds, had been married for 35 years and had three children and two grandchildren.

Mr Bell, 59, worked for Northern Rail in the ticket office at Leeds City Station for eight years, having previously been a taxi driver and a bus driver.

"Their family was everything to them, and both of them were never happier than when they were surrounded by their family," a family statement said.


John Welch and Eileen Swannack

Image copyright PA
Image caption Eileen Swannack and John Welch had been together for eight years

John Welch, 74, and his partner of eight years Eileen Swannack, 73, loved Tunisia and had stayed at the Hotel Riu Imperial Marhaba twice a year for the past four years.

Mr Welch was one of three siblings, and had three children, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

The retired plumber was born in Abertillery, south Wales, but moved to Corsham, Wiltshire, at an early age and lived the rest of his life in the town.

He met Mrs Swannack, a widow, following the death of his partner Nanette in 2005.

Mrs Swannack, who was originally from Bristol, had two sons with her husband, Eddie, who died in 2005. She had two grandchildren and two step-grandchildren.

A family statement read to the inquest said: "Meeting her partner John in 2007 gave them both a new lease of life, they regularly holidayed abroad together, Tunisia in particular."

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