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7/7 London bombings 15th anniversary: Father of victim Philip Russell, from East Peckham, shares thoughts

The father of a man killed in the 7/7 London bombings, which took place exactly 15 years ago today, says knowing his son died without family by his side is "the worst part about it".

Philip Russell, who was originally from East Peckham, boarded the number 30 bus on Tuesday, July 7, 2005 after his train skipped Moorgate and continued to Euston, where passengers had then been evacuated.

Philip Russell from East Peckham was killed in the 7/7 attacks in 2005
Philip Russell from East Peckham was killed in the 7/7 attacks in 2005

He was travelling from his flat, near Kennington, to his job as an asset manager for JP Morgan in the City, when the bus was blown up by Hasib Hussain in Tavistock Square.

Mr Russell, 28, was one of 13 victims who died in the explosion.

Four suicide bombers attacked London's transport system that day, killing 52 people in total and leaving 700 injured.

Alongside Hasib Hussain, the three other men responsible for the murders were Mohammad Sidique Khan, Shehzad Tanweer and Germaine Lindsay.

Mr Russell's parents, Grahame and Veronica Russell, feared the worst after they were unable to contact their son who has been missing since the morning of the bombings.

Grahame and Veronica Russell
Grahame and Veronica Russell

Now, 15 years on, the East Peckham couple would normally be attending a service in Tavistock Sqaure, where a memorial was erected in 2018, followed by another service at Hyde Park.

But due to the pandemic, they will instead be laying red and white roses at their son's grave at their village's Holy Trinity Church.

Mr Russell said: "It's a bit strange we can't go up to Tavistock like we normally do. We do keep in touch with other families who we see at the memorials, and have kept in touch during lockdown. The thing is you don't have to explain things to them, they just get it."

The 77-year-old has drawn comparisons between the loss of his son and those who've died due to the coronavirus in recent months.

He said: "Like people who have been lost to Covid-19, the worst part about it is that you weren't with them when they died. It's like those who have been locked away in hospital. They're just suddenly gone and it's a complete shock."

The double decker bus in Tavistock Square, which was destroyed by a terrorist bomb Picture: Peter Macdiarmid/PA.
The double decker bus in Tavistock Square, which was destroyed by a terrorist bomb Picture: Peter Macdiarmid/PA.

Being indoors more during lockdown has meant Mr Russell has had more time to reflect on the loss of his son.

"There have been days when I have thought about it more compared to when life was normal but there's nothing you can do," he said.

"It does get easier in some respects but you never forget. You will try to do things to occupy your mind but there's always something or someone which will remind you of him and it'll all just hit you again.

"Don't ever believe anyone who says that time heals."

Mr Russell added: "We have to remember that 52 people were murdered - it's the same with all the other terrorist attacks since - somebody decided to do that."

But the Russett Road resident tries not to think about the 18-year-old man responsible for the explosion on the double decker bus.

He said: "My views on him haven't changed at all - I don't think about him, it would just make us angry and hurt more, it makes no difference to him, we'd be the only people affected."

Mr Russell added how he believes intelligence services have probably helped prevent many terrorist attacks over the years.

"They have a difficult job but they do the best they can," he said.

Philip Russell was a single man who was educated at East Peckham Primary School, Mascalls School in Paddock Wood and Kingston University where he gained a 2:1 in business studies. He lived with friends in Kennington, south London, and was days away from turning 29 when he was killed.

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