Still haunted by memory of bomb intended for Thatcher

PUBLISHED: 18:09 14 October 2009 | UPDATED: 09:06 12 August 2010

THE son of a man who rescued victims after an IRA bomb says 25 years on, people still suffer as a result of the harrowing event.

THE son of a man who rescued victims after an IRA bomb says 25 years on, people still suffer as a result of the harrowing event.

Conservative parliamentary candidate for Eltham, David Gold, said that delegates at the conference in Manchester this month still clearly remember the Brighton IRA bombing 25 years ago.

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was unharmed despite working on her conference speech inside the hotel at the time of the explosion just before 3am on October 12, 1984.

Her cabinet colleague, Lord Norman Tebbit, was rescued from the rubble alongside his wife Margaret, who was left paralysed.

He said: "I was in Manchester with people who had inhaled an awful lot of dust and for many years had to have treatment for it."

His father, Michael, was at the conference at the Victorian Grand Hotel when the explosion took place bomb killed five people and seriously injured 34.

Mr Gold, who was 11 at the time, was on a French exchange trip when he heard of the explosion.

He added: "My father was staying in the Metropole Hotel next door to the Grand Hotel. He had just gone to bed when he heard the explosion. He rushed out and obviously there was quite a lot going on.

"My father never really talks about it.

"The husband of the lady he helped sent him a letter saying how grateful he was. He never wanted to talk about it.

"I was in France on an exchange trip and partly why I was on that trip was because I couldn't speak French very well. They were trying to communicate to me that this had happened in Brighton."

A memorial service was conducted at St Paul's Parish Church in West Street, Brighton, on Monday to pay tribute to those who lost their lives or were injured in the attack.

The church near the Grand Hotel was used as a refuge in the aftermath of the bombing and bears a plaque on its wall listing the names of all those who died.

Patrick Magee, the bomber, was handed a total of eight life sentences at the Old Bailey in 1986 for the attack, with a recommendation to serve a minimum of 35 years.

He has since been released from prison under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

Beckenham MP Jacqui Lait who is retiring at the next general election was at the conference in 1984.

She said: "I was at that party conference but I was not drinking in the hotel when the bomb went off. I was not aware there was a bomb until I heard about it on the news."

At the time, Mrs Lait was a volunteer with the party and an office holder in the European Union of Women.

But after announcing her plans to stand down in September, she did not attend this year's conference.

She said: "I am retiring so I thought that I would be besieged by prospective parliamentary candidates for Beckenham asking what the constituency was like.

"In the interest of fairness, I didn't go.

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