Brighton hotel bomb survivor Harvey Thomas to speak at Christchurch Baldock event about why he has forgiven the IRA man who planted it
- Credit: Archant
A survivor of the 1984 Brighton hotel bombing who later forgave and befriended the IRA man who planted the device is set to speak in Baldock this weekend.
Harvey Thomas, who spent 14 years as a press adviser and conference organiser for Margaret Thatcher and the Conservatives, was thrown through the Grand Hotel’s roof by the night-time blast – targeting the Tory party conference – and then left buried in rubble above a five-storey drop for hours before being rescued. Five people, including MP Sir Anthony Berry, were killed.
Harvey forgave the bomber Patrick Magee by letter in 1998, and has since forged a firm friendship with him – and on Saturday evening the 76-year-old will tell his story at a Christchurch Baldock event at Knights Templar School.
Church minister Chris Jenkins told the Comet: “This is a very exciting event for us at Christchurch.
“Harvey Thomas was a key player in government and he has shown an extraordinary capacity for forgiveness and reconciliation. This is something our world really needs to hear.”
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Harvey, who now runs a PR consultancy firm, spent two-and-a-half freezing hours buried up to his nose in rubble, water pouring all over him from the hotel tanks, and praying – thinking of his family, with his wife expecting a baby mere days later.
Speaking to the Times from his hospital bed the following day, he said: “I was sound asleep and I felt a tremendous noise and crashing. I thought it was an earthquake. Then I realized that you do not have earthquakes in Brighton, at least not during a Tory party conference.”
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Harvey had only minor injuries, and his daughter Leah was born five days after the bombing.
The road to forgiveness began about a year later, when he met an IRA fundraiser on a plane.
And in 1998, after speaking on reconciliation at a conference the US, he resolved that he was not practising what he was preaching – and decided to forgive Magee, who was released from prison a year later under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.
They now share a strong friendship and speak regularly – and Harvey has hosted Magee in his own home.
Harvey has said repeatedly that he can only speak on his own behalf, and that it is up to all survivors of the bombing to react in their own way.
Asked for comment when Magee was released in 1999, he said: “Everyone should do their best to forgive in the way God forgives.”
Harvey’s talk is in the main hall at Knights Templar from 7.30pm to 9.30pm, with tickets at £5 each including a meal – for more details call 01462 620539, email email@example.com, or see cc-b.uk.