Mother-of-one Cheryl, 56, lost her husband John when a terrorist opened fire at the Tunisian beach resort of Sousse, murdering 30 Britons.
The recent attacks in London and Manchester have reminded her of the pain and trauma she suffered at the hands of terrorists.
Now Cheryl is speaking out and urging anyone affected by the terror attacks to seek help by calling our Supportline on 08 08 16 89 111.
‘In the immediate aftermath of a tragedy such as this there is so much uncertainty, everything is a blur, and you just feel numb,’ Cheryl said.
‘Lots of help is being offered to you, but everything you’re going through is so new and overwhelming that you don’t necessarily know what support you need. In these moments you’re not even making decisions for yourself, you’re just doing what people tell you.
‘Making sure someone is there for these families in the immediate aftermath as well as in the weeks and months afterwards, when people are in a position to recognise what support they may need, is really important.
‘We were thrown into a void, there was so much to do and so many decisions to make. Our Victim Support case worker was one person in the midst of all of this chaos that we were able to build a relationship with. She offered us consistent support from day one and we are still working with her now, two years later.
‘Victim Support doesn’t just offer help to those directly affected, but also to witnesses affected by the incident. And these can be the very people who may not initially feel they need help. But in the days and weeks afterwards they can find the trauma becomes too hard to handle on their own.
Cheryl continued: ‘There is support out there and it’s about getting the right support that people need, that’s personal to them – this is how Victim Support can help.’
Cheryl was on holiday with her husband John and their son Matthew, 23, when the attack took place. She was with John, who was 58, by the pool of the Imperial Marhaba Hotel when the gunman opened fire. Ex-paratrooper John immediately recognised the sound as gunfire, but as the couple tried to make an escape he was tragically shot and died of severe head injuries.
Cheryl, who works as the Safeguarding Children in Education Officer for Nottinghamshire County Council, said: ‘The attack in Manchester is particularly heart wrenching, seeing all these images of young people – people just starting their lives. Just like us and many other victims of recent terror attacks, these were families and children enjoying themselves and having a good time together.
‘Families affected by any terrorist attack, including witnesses to the incident, will need specialist help as so many children were involved in this. Families are going to be devastated, and nothing will undo what has happened, but receiving the right support will make it easier.’
Almost two years on from the attack, Cheryl and her son are still working closely with Victim Support.
‘My son and I were devastated by what happened. Our relationship with our case worker was so integral to helping us find a way forward. This was so important in helping me get back to work and as he now comes to the end of his studies, he will need support in moving from education into the world of work and Victim Support are still here helping us through things like this.’
If you’ve been affected by the recent terror attacks and would like support or someone to talk to, call our free Supportline on 08 08 16 89 111 or request support online.