My great escape on night of bombing

Published on: 24 May 2013

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Margaret’s Thatcher’s recent passing brings back vivid memories of occasions when I many have been in her presence or close vicinity. There was one occasion which I will never forget. Attending the Conservative Conference at Brighton in 1984 I was walking along the Promenade with a colleague when we decided to go to the Grand Hotel where we knew that the Iron Lady was based, along with many of her fellow Cabinet Ministers. It was a pleasant evening, perfect for a stroll by the sea. It was obvious when we arrived at the entrance that the lounges were full to capacity. Members of Parliament, photographers and representatives from TV, radio and the Press. A burly police officer at the entrance questioned our intentions to attend. We offered him a sweet that he gladly accepted whilst we pondered for a while what to do. We could hardly have entered so we decided to walk on by. The sea air, and the sunset, seemed far better than being stuffed in the huge reception area. We would have stood there idly watching, glass in hand probably. There were far better things to do. After our pleasant walk we returned to our respective accommodation a little further along the way. Peace, tranquillity - a much better way to spend an evening - was our chosen activity. As I stood by my bedroom window watching passers-by I was shaken by a huge explosion. Windows rattled; along with the doors. Some were screaming as they ran down the road. Many with blood on their faces. It was a scene straight from Hell! As I later discovered it had been an attempt to assassinate the Prime Minister in her bedroom. It sparingly failed to do so but brought fatalities and carnage to that otherwise purposeful scene in the lounge of the Grand Hotel. A lounge that we were contemplating entering but decided not to do so. Characteristically and hugely bravely the Iron Lady visited all who had been committed to hospital. And characteristically the conference continued but greatly subdued. Her attendance in the closing moments of the conference drew the applause of everyone. Many will bear the scars of that devastating attack. But for the grace of God so would myself and my colleague. We turned away at the crucial moment and thankfully saved our lives.

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