It was september 11th 2001. My then boyfriend (M) and I were holidaying in Lanzarote. We were about a week into our two week holiday and we had been lying around the pool most of the day oblivious to the events occurring in New York, Pennsylvania and at The Pentagon.
We returned to the apartment at about 5pm and turned on our mobile telephones. I had, had a couple of messages but my boyfriend’s mail box was full. You see, he worked for Cantor Fitzgerald. Cantor Fitzgerald were based in the North Tower of the World Trade Center, the first of the tower’s to be hit. Cantor Fitzgerald were based between floors 101 and 105 just two floors above the impact.
M listened to the voice mails from family and then the calls from his boss and colleagues. Although M worked in London he knew the New York operation very well. He was asked to cut his holiday short and fly home to fly immediately to New York.
Cantor Fitzgerald lost 658 employees that day, which equated to two-thirds of their New York staff. It soon became apparent that London secondees had been killed including one of M’s good friends.
I was terrified flying home, and when I got home and went back to work, the stories that were circulating were terrifying. Stories of people speaking to someone in the twin towers on the telephone and hearing the impact and the line going dead. There were a few companies I spoke to for my job, who were in the Towers and it felt sad knowing some of the people I had spoken to previously had probably lost their lives.
In October 2001, we were invited to a memorial service at St Paul’s. It was a moving service with a reception at Guildhall. I remember listening to a man describing his conversation with a New York colleague over the intercom system and he explained how he just heard manic screaming as people could see the plane heading straight for them, then hearing the impact and then hearing the deadly silence.
In the months that followed M worked in New York a lot and I changed job’s and started working in Canary Wharf tower. I would often see the planes taking off at city airport and get a little nervous. There were lots of security scares and we would have to evacuate. After 25 minutes of walking down the stairwells, it made me and my colleagues think. If something happened in Canary Wharf would we get out?
Eventually, M and I split up and Mr Bouche and I started dating. In February 2004 Mr Bouche took me to New York for valentine’s day. We did the usual sites but Mr Bouche said there is somewhere he needed to go.
When we reached Ground Zero, I was overwhelmed to see all the names on the memorial board. There was still a missing person’s board and it felt still very new even though it had been almost two and half years since the attacks. It was very important to Mr Bouche to go to ground zero. He had worked in the twin towers and had lost friends. It was important for him to find the names of his friends on the memorial board, which we did along with M’s friend.
Ten years on and it still feels like recent news. One thing is for sure most of us will never forget where we were, when we heard the devastating news.