7/7 10th anniversary: Hero Paul Dadge relives horrors of bombings

It was an iconic image, which came to define the strength of the human spirit in the face of unimaginable horror.

7/7 10th anniversary: Hero Paul Dadge relives horrors of bombings

Retained firefighter Paul Dadge was snapped with his arms wrapped around badly injured Davinia Turrell, clutching a burns mask to her face, outside Edgware Road tube station in the wake of the 7/7 terror attacks in London.

The photograph of the Staffordshire IT worker was beamed across the world and today, 10 years on, remains one of the more powerful images of the tragedy, in which 52 people were killed and hundreds were injured. The image even made the cover of the famous Time magazine.

Mr Dadge, who runs an IT firm in Norton Canes, says the memories of the carnage of the streets of London are still so vivid it could have been yesterday

The 38-year-old, formerly of Heath Hayes was on his way to a new job in IT at AOL on the morning of July 7. 2005, but was ejected from a Tube train at Baker Street due to a 'power fault'.

Paul leads Davinia Turrell, wearing a surgical burns mask, to safety after the Edgware Road blast

At this point he had no idea that there had been a series of bomb blasts that would devastate the capital.

Within three minutes of 8.50am three suicide bombers had stuck on the Tube, with another detonating his bomb on a bus nearly an hour later.

Shehzad Tanweer, 22 detonated his bomb at Aldgate station, Mohammed Sidique Khan, 30, set his device off at Edgware Road station and Jermaine Lindsay, 19, blew himself up between King's Cross and Russell Square.

Hasib Hussain, 18, detonated his device on board the number 30 bus at Tavistock Square.

Paul, a former Norton Canes High School pupil said: "On the morning of July 7 I was running late. I was on my way to Kings Cross and got on a train that was going to take me to Hammersmith.

"At Baker Street we were told there was a power fault. I started walking towards Paddington when I saw people being evacuated from the Tube station.

"A number people were covered in soot and I knew then that something wasn't right." Commonsense told me that these people should be kept together.

Paul helped to set up an emergency centre in Marks and Spencer and to tend to the walking wounded.

"I had no idea what was going on underground at this time. I didn't know that people were dead or dying."

Paul stands at Edgware Underground station as friends, family and passers-by pay their respects to those who died, a year on from the tragedy
Paul Dadge

It was when the store was evacuated following a further security alert that the iconic image was snapped as Paul held the surgical gel pack to the face of Davinia as he helped her across the road.

He said that despite being recognised globally for his efforts on the day he still feels he could have done more - and struggled to come top terms with the memories of what happened.

He said: "For me personally the guilt that I will always carry is that I didn't go underground to help people. Instead I stayed above ground in the holding area.

"When I came back up here life was carrying on as normal, but in London this devastating thing had happened. I found the difference hard to deal with."

he said he is surprised that the capital has escaped further terror attacks in the years that have passed since the bombings.

He said: "I am surprised that we have got to the tenth anniversary without another huge attack. Apart from the Lee Rigby murder we haven't had anything on the scale of 7/7, although Prime Minister David Cameron says that four or five potential incidents have been disrupted since January this year.

"Ten years on security forces have more resources to follow and deal with people of interest. The emergency services are now better prepared." In the West Midlands the Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) was set up by the ambulance service to deal with incidents involving mass injuries, such as setting up equipment that can oxygen to 90 people at a time."

However he said last month's attack in Tunisia - described by foreign minister Tobias Ellwood as the 'most significant attack on British people since 7/7' had brought a lot of emotion to the surface.

He said: "The events in Tunisia in the last week, more so than the 7/7 anniversary, adds to my frustration and anger over terrorism and how more families now have been left with a void in their lives. When compared to the little benefits to those who carry out these acts.I find the feelings hard to put into words."

"My frustration is that people can go and carry out these acts.

Paul, is actively involved in a support network for the families affected by the 7/7 bombings.

He said: "I made a decision on July 8, 2005 to do something to help. That is a message that I have continued to give 10 years on. We have to send out a message how defiant and how strong we are."

Now a married father-of-two Paul is often called upon to talk about July 7 and terrorism issues and has taken part in official reports into the authorities' response to the attacks.

He explains that the 7/7 survivors were part of a support network linked to the organisation Foundation for Peace that was set up in the aftermath of the IRA bombing in Warrington in 1993 when Tim Parry, 12, and Johnathan Ball, three, were tragically killed. And he said while it was very early days help from the group was available to relatives of those who died in Tunisia and the survivors if they wanted it.

He has also been involved in other high profile campaigns, including the Hacked-off pressure group, after he discovered his phone had been hacked by News of the World journalists.

He subsequently received undisclosed damages from News Group Newspapers, a subsidiary of News International, in the wake of the scandal.

Paul has now put pen to paper to write a book about his life's experiences, The Man and the Mask, which not only talks about 7/7, but his early life and his ill-fated political career, when he stood as an MP for Haltemprice and Howden in the 2008 by-election.

How living in Hixon, Staffordshire, with his wife Alex, 38, daughter Bea, four, and son Tom, two, Paul will attend a memorial event on Tuesday at the permanent 7/7 memorial in London's Hyde Park.

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