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Southwest Nova Scotia couple in U.K. during terror attack struck by resilience of Londoners

The Chetwynds prepare to leave London Monday, June 5. From their train station London's Shard skyscraper can be seen on the horizon, near the scene of the horror and sadness that unfolded in London on June 3.
The Chetwynds prepare to leave London Monday, June 5. From their train station London's Shard skyscraper can be seen on the horizon, near the scene of the horror and sadness that unfolded in London on June 3.

SHELBURNE, N.S.  – A Shelburne County, Nova Scotia, couple visiting London when a June 3 terrorist attack occurred say what struck them the most was how people continued to go about their daily lives and routines.

Ken and Rosie Chetwynd, who have spent weeks touring Europe, arrived in London on June 2. After a long day of walking and sightseeing in west London they had gone to bed early Saturday night, June 3.

On Sunday morning,  they awoke to the news that there had been a terrorist attack in the city the previous night. They were staying in an airbnb vacation rental unit on the outskirts of the city, “so a bit far from the scene,” Ken Chetwynd said Sunday.

The Chetwynds had to reassure people on social media that they were okay, as people back home were concerned for their safety and whereabouts when news of the terrorist attacks broke.   

“We had absolutely no idea what was happening just a few kilometres away until we awoke (Sunday) morning to a barrage of well wishes and concerns about our safety,” Ken Chetwynd said. “Let me, right now, say just how good it feels to know that people an ocean away are watching over you and praying for your safety.”

The couple switched on the TV to watch  coverage on BBC and ITV. Seven people were killed when a van was driven at high speed into pedestrians on London Bridge, followed up by those inside the van then exiting the vehicle and stabbing people in the nearby Borough Market area. Among those killed was a 30-year-old Canadian woman who was visiting London with her fiancé. Another 48 people were injured, with almost two dozen of them in critical condition.

The three attackers were shot and killed by police shortly after the attacks.

“The British prime minister made a statement and a vow to crack down on extremism, and the arrests began almost immediately,” Ken Chetwynd said of the news coverage they watched.

The Chetwynds were staying in the East Sheen area of London.

“We still wanted to get out and about to see what people were doing and saying after this brutal attack. After walking for a couple of hours and trying to be observant, we got a feel for the mood,” he said.

“Let me put it this way – if these murdering thugs thought that their actions would bring this awesome city to its knees, force citizens to lock their doors in fear, and have everyone looking over their shoulder with suspicion, they totally wasted their time,” he said. “During our walk along streets, through parks, in a shopping area, and along the Thames, while I’m sure the thoughts of many were with the victims, we heard not one word of discussion about the event.”

He said the landlord of the building they were staying in planned to paint his house Sunday. Parks were full of walkers, bikers, joggers and children during their thing.

“Cafés – a target of the attack – were bustling. Our flat lies directly beneath the approaches to Heathrow Airport and I can assure you that jets continue to land at a rate of about one every 45 seconds,” he said. “Life is going in this, one of my favorite, cities in the world.”

The Chetwynds, who left London  June 5, had, been been traveling overseas for an extensive time. They have had memorable experiences, they said, including the pride of standing on Juno Beach, the somber reflection of visiting areas in Berlin that housed detention and torture cells during the Second World War, absorbing the beauty of the countries they’ve visited, navigating the fast pace of traveling through Europe by train and experiencing the slow pace of Venetian gondola traffic jams.

Shelburne County resident Ken Chetwynd while visiting West Bay in England.

During their nearly two months abroad Chetwynd said they had not once felt that they were in an unsafe situation.

“Yes, one of our trains was evacuated mid-journey, but as far as we know it might have just been a technical issue, and it was handled very calmly,” Ken Chetwynd said. “The cities seem safe overall, and we have met many very helpful and friendly locals.”

But, he said,  despite the normalcy they witnessed the day after the London terrorist attack, there is heart break for those impacted.

“Like any normal human being, I feel sick for the victims of this latest attack, as I’m sure Londoners and everyone else does,” he said. “But I think what we are witnessing here today (the day after) in person is similar to what we watched on TV from Paris last year – a collective middle finger to the cowardly murderers who carry out these crimes, and I’m holding mine up with them!”

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