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Rochester man Bernard Hepplewhite among six stabbed in Russell Square attack

By KentOnline reporter

A Kent man among six people stabbed when a knifeman went on the rampage in London emailed colleagues from his hospital bed to tell them he had been hurt in the horror attack.

Bernard Hepplewhite, 67, from Wainscott near Rochester, was knifed in the stomach in Russell Square, Camden.

Despite his injuries, he took the time to email colleagues at the Historic Dockyard in Chatham from hospital to apologise because he wouldn't be able to turn up this week.

Bernard Hepplewhite was one of six stabbed in the attack
Bernard Hepplewhite was one of six stabbed in the attack

Mr Hepplewhite, a retired tax expert, has worked as a volunteer at the Dockyard for several years, as part of the attraction’s conservation team.

He gives up his spare time about once a week to help paint and repair the historic ships.

The widower, known affectionately as ‘the tax man’ by other volunteers and staff, emailed the Dockyard on Friday from hospital, where he is still recovering.

Paul Barnard, from Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust, said: “It was very sweet, and very him.

VIDEO: Bernard Hepplewhite was one of six stabbed in the attack.

"He has been a volunteer for several years and very popular and likeable. It was a shock to find out he had been caught up [in the stabbings].

"He is a nice chap and it is just horrifying for something like this to happen. We couldn’t believe it.

Mr Hepplewhite has worked as a volunteer at Chatham’s Historic Dockyard for several years
Mr Hepplewhite has worked as a volunteer at Chatham’s Historic Dockyard for several years

Wednesday's attack left US tourist Darlene Horton, 64, dead, and five others including Mr Hepplewhite, a second American, two Australians and an Israeli - injured.

Mr Hepplewhite, who is known as Bernie, was said to be standing yards away from Mrs Horton when she suffered a fatal wound to her back.

"He is a very kind, very gentle man and always has a laugh and a smile" - friend Penny Modena

A neighbour, who has known Mr Hepplewhite for about 40 years, has spoken of his shock.

Don Moore,77, a retired builder who lives opposite his friend, is being kept in touch by daughter Sarah.

He said : "I only spoke to him just before he set off for London. He said he was going up by train and asked me to pick up a parcel for him.

"It's terrible what has happened to him. I'm told he was in intensive care, but was now out on the ward."

Prayers have been said for Mr Hepplewhite at English Martyrs Catholic Church in Strood where he attends mass each week.

Penny Modena, parish catechist, said: “Everyone is shocked. When it was announced before mass on Saturday that we would be saying prayers for him, you could see the ripple of shock going through the congregation.

"We were told his condition was serious but stable. Prayers were said again on Sunday."

English Martyrs Church in Strood
English Martyrs Church in Strood

She added: “Bernie attends morning mass each week and has been in the parish for a long time so he is well known. He is a very kind, very gentle man and always has a laugh and a smile when you see him.”

Mr Hepplewhite, a member of The Chopin Society, is thought to still be recovering in hospital, while the four other victims have been discharged.

The Chopin Society UK broke the news to its members online on Thursday morning, writing on its Facebook page: “Chopin Society Member, Bernie Hepplewhite, stabbed in Russell Square incident last night. He’s in hospital. No more details at the moment.”

Several members have sent well wishes, including Linda Lau who wrote: “So sorry to hear this. Best wishes for a speedy recovery.”

Darlene Horton was killed in the alleged attack. Picture: Met Police.
Darlene Horton was killed in the alleged attack. Picture: Met Police.

The Dockyard's Mr Barnard added: “He seemed in good spirits in his email. He said he was just in the wrong place and the wrong time.”

"Everyone here at the Historic Dockyard Chatham is thinking of him and would like to wish him all the best for a speedy recovery and we hope to see him soon.”

The suspect, Zakaria Bulhan, 19, was brought down by armed police using a taser following the six-minute attack.

He was charged with murder and five counts of attempted murder on Friday, and appeared at the Old Bailey this morning.

He was remanded in custody until his trial at the Old Bailey in February.

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