Service For Gateshead Tunisia Victim

3 July 2015, 13:06

Lisa Burbidge

A grandmother from Gateshead who was among the victims of the Tunisia terror attack has received a nationwide tribute as Britain held a minute's silence.

The nation paused at noon to reflect on last Friday's atrocity and remember the 30 British people who were killed in the beach front massacre, including Lisa Burbidge, a grandmother-of-four from Whickham.

Her family said she doted on her grandchildren and described her as the ``most beautiful, amazing, caring and gentle person in our lives.''

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh observed the silence as they visited the University of Strathclyde's Technology and Innovation Centre, while Prime Minister David Cameron marked the moment in his Oxfordshire constituency.

Just before the silence, an inquest was opened into the death of engineer Stephen Mellor, from Bodmin, Cornwall, who was killed as he shielded his wife Cheryl during the beach massacre a week ago.

West London Coroner's Court heard that Mr Mellor was killed by gunshot wounds to the chest and abdomen.

The hearing was told that 275 witness accounts had been taken by police, while more than 1,200 potential witnesses had returned to the UK.

As pedestrians and tourists alike bowed their head in London's Parliament Square during the silence, flags above Whitehall fluttered at half mast, a poignant symbol mirrored at public buildings throughout the country, including at Buckingham Palace.

Tunisian prime minister Habib Essid also joined the UK's ambassador to the country Hamish Cowell at a memorial event on the beach in Sousse - where Mr Cowell met members of the hotel's staff to thank them for their role helping British nationals.

Armed police patrolled the beach while dozens of tourists also gathered around a sea of flowers at the scene of the attacks.

Elsewhere, Tamworth fell silent to remember Sue Davey, who was killed along with her partner Scott Chalkley. Flags on Tamworth Castle and the town's Marmion House were flown at half mast, and a book of condolence was opened by the council for people to remember her.

Mosques across the UK also fell silent to mark the occasion as Muslims paid their own tributes during the holy month of Ramadan.

The Muslim Council of Britain has urged British Muslims to make their voices heard to pray for peace, and speak out against terrorism, and has called on mosques and imams to deliver a sermon of peace at Friday prayers, to remind people ``that these killers do not respect the sanctity of life as laid down in Islam''.

The British victims were among 38 holidaymakers who were killed by Seifeddine Rezgui when he opened fire in the resort of Sousse.

Three Irish nationals, two Germans, one Belgian, one Portuguese and one Russian were among the dead.

The bodies of 17 of the 30 British victims killed in the beach massacre have been returned to the UK and eight more will be flown into RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire on Friday, the Foreign Office said, with the final five returning on Saturday.

The final two Britons to be identified have been confirmed as Raymond and Angela Fisher, from Leicester, believed to be aged 75 and 69.

Holiday operators Thomson and First Choice have confirmed that all 30 British victims were their customers.

It is believed Rezgui - who was shot dead by police - had accomplices who helped him to carry out the atrocity and the Tunisian government said it had made a number of arrests.

Eight people - seven men and one woman - were in custody, suspected of having direct links to the massacre, but four others had been released, government minister Kamel Jendoubi said.

He said the investigation ``has allowed us to discover the network behind the operation in Sousse''.

According to Tunisian officials, the gunman trained at a Libyan jihadist camp at the same time as the two gunmen who attacked the Bardo museum in Tunis in March, killing 22 people.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon vowed that those responsible for the massacre would be ``tracked down''.

The Metropolitan Police said 76 family liaison officers across the country were supporting the families of those killed and the survivors while hundreds of counter terrorism officers were helping the international response to the attack.

Specialist advisers have also been deployed to Tunisia by the National Policing Counter Terrorism Headquarters to assist the Foreign Office and Tunisian authorities in reviewing security at other tourist resorts and attractions.

Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, the national policing lead for counter terrorism, said: ``With the threat level to the UK from international terrorism remaining at severe, the UK police service is continually reviewing security to help ensure people and places are as safe as possible.''

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