‘Love helped me heal from London Bridge terror attack – my friends weren’t so lucky’

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On June 3 2017 three terrorists killed eight people and seriously injured 48 more after ploughing through pedestrians on London Bridge then running rampage armed with knives through Borough Market.

One of those attacked was finance journalist Geoff Ho, who was stabbed multiple times. As we approach the anniversary of the attack, Geoff, 45, describes how he has healed and found happiness following a night of sheer terror

“Every morning when I brush my teeth or get ready to go out I look in the mirror and see the mass of scars on my chin and across my neck. They’re a permanent reminder of that shocking day, June 3 2017, when I became a victim in a horrific terrorist attack. But my scars are also testament to my survival. I’m alive and the friends who were with me that day are too.

What’s more, the fact that I was in mortal danger made my now wife realise that she couldn’t live without me.

Geoff put his life at risk to save others during the 2017 London Bridge terror attack
Geoff put his life at risk to save others during the 2017 London Bridge terror attack
(Image: Ken McKay/ITV/REX/Shutterstock)

My life couldn’t be better than it is right now, but every year when the anniversary comes round I’m inevitably reminded of that night.

I’d gone to meet friends at a restaurant bar in Borough Market near where I live. We were gathered around a table chatting. The first we were aware that something was wrong was when the waitress locked the door and shouted that we needed to escape out the back. Through the windows we could see three men trying to get in.

At first everyone was bewildered but that turned to panic when the men kicked in the door and stormed in with giant knives in their hands, yelling at everyone to get down on the floor.

My first thought was protecting my friends, one of whom was a young lad who had just started at university. I’m trained in martial arts and was pretty fit and healthy so I thought I’d confront them and go in with my fists. But then I saw they were wearing what looked like suicide bomb vests so I didn’t want to risk triggering one of them because none of us would survive.

Journalist Geoff was drinking with friends when the attack took place
Journalist Geoff was drinking with friends when the attack took place
(Image: PA)

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So I tried talking to them, thinking the distraction would give everyone a chance to get away. I said they didn’t have to do this but there was just anger and hatred in their eyes. Time slowed down and I can remember the moment when two of them attacked me in excruciating detail. I can picture their faces, their eyes, the Arsenal away shirt one of them was wearing.

They stabbed me on one side of my neck, then the other, then they tried to stab me in the stomach, which I knew would mean I’d have little chance of survival. Somehow I managed to protect my body. My friend behind me had his face slashed and then the men ran off.

I knew my injuries were serious but using a shirt to put pressure on my wounds, I willed myself to stay calm. I’d done First Aid training and I’m surrounded by medics in my family, so I knew that the second you start panicking, your heart beats faster and you lose more blood.

Geoff suffered stab wounds to the neck while attempting to distract the terrorists
Geoff suffered stab wounds to the neck while attempting to distract the terrorists
(Image: Sky News)

I was taken to hospital and stayed there for 10 days, the first week on a breathing machine with tubes everywhere so I couldn’t talk. My parents came to see me and lots of friends. It was hard to see everyone so worried about me but I could see they were relieved I was OK.

One of my first visitors was my friend Cecile. She was very concerned for me and visited every day. During one visit, I just knew that she was the one for me and that we would end up getting married. She was there the day I came home from hospital and we started seeing each other shortly afterwards.

As I recovered from my injuries, which included a lacerated Adam’s Apple, the Victim Support team was amazing. They immediately arranged for me to see a counsellor and I was able to talk through my emotions. Having therapy straight away really helped me and I soon realised I was going to be OK.

Other friends haven’t been so lucky. One moved abroad because of the memories, another turned to alcohol and has only just started receiving the support he needs.

Geoff is now married to Cecile, who he credits for helping him heal
Geoff is now married to Cecile, who he credits for helping him heal
(Image: Ken McKay/ITV/REX/Shutterstock)

The first anniversary was a difficult day and brought all the horrific memories back. Since then I’ve made sure I don’t work on June 3. Instead I spend the day with friends and we remember those who lost their lives that day.

In September 2019 Cecile and I got married in Nice with 100 friends and family in attendance. An off-duty police officer who helped save my life by getting me to hospital and has now become a friend, was there in full uniform. And there were other friends who were with me when the attack happened. It was a brilliant day and easily the happiest of my life.

I’ve joined the Survivors Against Terror group and made friends with other survivors of attacks, including the Westminster Bridge attack. We don’t talk about our experiences much anymore but we do share a bond that I wouldn’t wish on anyone else. For all of us, there were our lives beforehand and our lives after we were attacked. The two will always be very different.’

If you’ve been affected by this story, find support at ptsduk.org.

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