Tunisia attack: ‘It was horrific, we thought we were going to die’

Ian Jennison and Julie Duffell from Cramlington, at the Bellevue Park hotel in Tunisia.
Ian Jennison and Julie Duffell from Cramlington, at the Bellevue Park hotel in Tunisia.

A couple from Northumberland have said they are lucky to be alive after being caught up in the Tunisian terror attack which left nearly 40 people dead.

Julie Duffell and her partner Ian Jennison, from Cramlington, had been staying in the Bellevue Park Hotel, when gunman Seifeddine Rezgui opened fire on Friday, June 26, killing 38 people on the beach and the adjoining hotel.

The beach in the background and the Hotel Imperial Mahaba on the right where the attacks happened.

The beach in the background and the Hotel Imperial Mahaba on the right where the attacks happened.

The couple feared for their lives when they heard bullets ring out and saw people rushing for cover.

Now, after returning home to Cramlington, they are keen to help the staff in the resort who risked their lives to protect guests, some creating human barricades to stop the gunman going further into the resort.

Julie, 49, from Beaconhill, said: “Ian was lying by the pool and I was just washing my hands in the toilet when the gunfire started.

“I heard screaming and loads of loud bangs, it was terrifying.

It was pure horror. We thought we were going to die

Julie Duffell

“I came out and everyone was running into the hotel. People were in hysterics, it was horrific.

“We thought we were going to die, that they were going to come for us room to room.

“We locked ourselves in the room and we could see armed police and a helicopter and we didn’t know if it was the terrorists or the police, we didn’t know what was happening.

“The two hotels are adjoining and we are so lucky to be alive. We came so close and we are so lucky he didn’t come further down to our hotel.”

The Bellevue Park Hotel in Tunisia.

The Bellevue Park Hotel in Tunisia.

The couple have set up a fundraising page with a goal of raising £20,000 to help the staff from the two hotels.

Ian, who works as a milkman in Blyth, said: “We have been to Tunisia six times staying at the Bellevue for the fourth time when this atrocity occurred.

“We love Tunisia and the people and will hopefully be returning again next year.

“The staff there will now have no income because of this, and we want to help them as they did us.

“They risked their lives to save ours so the least we can do is help give them something to live off.

“This is our way of saying thank you to them, as they went towards the gunfire to protect us.”

Julie added: “On the Sunday we went out into the town and everyone was so kind to us for staying and showing our support.

“The truth is if we had booked for two weeks we would still be there, you can’t live your life in fear and we won’t let the terrorists win.

“It was horrific and it’s not something I ever want to go through again, but that’s the world we live in now and you can’t hide away in case something happens.”

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