7/7 survivor gets the community talking

By Marcus Dysch, August 22, 2008

London area synagogues have been key backers of the WalkTalk community cohesion initiative launched by a woman who lost both legs in the 7/7 bombings.

Gill Hicks - who now has prosthetic legs - has spent the past month covering the 200 miles from Leeds to London with her husband Joe Kerr and a variety of supporters. Their aim has been to promote dialogue between people of different backgrounds while walking together, or during refreshment breaks.

Before the walk's conclusion at Trafalgar Square on Sunday, there were "pit-stops" at the Radlett and Bushey Reform, Stanmore United, Edgware Reform, North Western Reform, St Albans Masorti and Elstree Liberal synagogues. Leeds synagogue members were also involved at the outset.

"There's been an unbelievable reception at all the venues and it has really kept us going," Ms Hicks told the JC as the walk reached North London. "I wanted to get people involved without them feeling they were expected to give a donation.

"We have averaged about 10 miles a day and it's been very tiring. We've needed plenty of rest breaks - and a few gin and tonics."

At North Western Reform, in Golders Green, Ms Hicks was greeted by Esther Hyman, whose sister Miriam was killed by the Tavistock Square bus bomb.

"I'm full of admiration for Gill and Joe," she said. "There are a lot of like-minded people here and this has given them a voice. We have been exchanging ideas and views as we have walked along."

Rabbi Mark Goldsmith added: "When you walk you cannot help talking to people so it is good to have interaction. The way to get communities together is to get people in contact with each other in a regular way, not just with rabbis talking to imams."

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair joined the walkers in Edgware last Thursday, as did around 60 Edgware Reform members.

Last updated: 2:11pm, July 16 2009