PC Hayley Marcham shares her 7/7 experience 10 years on
City of London Police Constable Hayley Marcham will be one of four candle bearers at today’s St Paul’s Cathedral’s remembrance service to mark the 10 thanniversary of the 7/7 London bombing.
She was one of the first police officers to alert the City of London police control room about the bomb that went off at Aldgate tube station.
A decade on, Hayley recalls her experience and how her outlook on life has changed since that tragic day in 2005.
I was 23 years old and had been in the job for just over a year on that fateful day. I remember it was rush hour and I was on a police operation outside a hotel with a colleague just opposite the Liverpool Street Station arcade. A man ran towards me from the arcade shaking and looking very scared. He told me that he had felt the ground “shake” underneath him. I then saw people running from the arcade and thought this is weird so I alerted the control room.
More and more people were running out of the arcade so I began to help evacuate the area. My first thought was that there had been a collision between two trains causing the tremor that people had felt.
My other colleagues who were in a police vehicle at the time then alerted the control room to say that they saw smoke coming from Aldgate tube station. They then went into the station and began transmitting messages over the radio that there were seriously injured people trapped underground. It was frightening to hear them speak about what they were witnessing, this is when reality hit and I knew that we were dealing with a major incident.
I was then told to go to Aldgate to help out. It was only then that I heard of the other explosions at Edgware road, Kings Cross and Tavistock square. I was shocked and horrified.
I remember thinking about my nan who loved going on buses every day. I called home to make sure she didn’t leave home.
As it became apparent that London had been targeted by terrorists, we helped members of the public in any way we could. People that had been on the tube were now trying to leave the Square Mile. I saw people with black soot over their faces and clothes as a result of the explosion. It was scary but I kept a brave face and did all that I could to help.
At Aldgate Tube Station we set up cordons and tried to keep people safe. We were told to be vigilant and to identify any person acting suspiciously, this was difficult as there were people everywhere, it was hectic and very loud. People kept asking me questions about what had happened. At that point we didn’t have any answers but directed people to safety. Our main task was to help the injured get medical attention.
We worked an exhausting 14 hour shift that day and we pulled together as a team to get people to safety.
Since the attacks I have had a child of my own and that has made me look back at my experiences very differently. My heart goes out to all the family and friends who lost someone they loved on that day.
I am honoured to be part of the memorial service ten years on and admire everyone who helped all those in need that day. It was a challenging time not just for me and my colleagues but for the whole of London. Everyone was affected and I am sure like me they will never forget it.