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9/11 survivor plans return to city

For one Briton who survived the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the year of the 10th anniversary will bring a return to Ground Zero for the first time.

Dermot Finch was working as a government official in Washington but was visiting New York for a meeting on September 11 2001.

As he sat down to breakfast in his room at a hotel connected to the World Trade Centre, he heard the first plane crash into the tower above him.

The 43-year-old, seconded from the Treasury to work for the British Embassy in Washington, escaped unscathed but was forced to take cover in Wall Street's New York Stock Exchange as the towers collapsed. As the 10th anniversary approaches, Mr Finch said events of that day led him to forge a strong relationship with the US and friends there.

Mr Finch, who moved back to the UK in 2004 and now works as head of public affairs at communications agency Fishburn Hedges, said: "The lasting impact has been a very close connection to the United States.

"It (9/11) happened three or four months into my posting to Washington - I could have just gone, 'this is a nightmare, I'm going home', but I didn't. I stayed and I'm really glad I did. I continued working and living in Washington, made some lifelong friends, and I still go back about twice a year.

"I don't think I'd have done that if this hadn't happened. I was left with this positive story and I feel quite bound in now to Washington and friends there. It's like my second home."

And in October, after the 10th anniversary has passed, Mr Finch, originally from Clitheroe, Lancashire, will make his own journey to Ground Zero and re-trace his steps of that day.

"I've been back to New York, I had to because of work. But what I have never done, because it was too much in that first couple of years, is go back to Ground Zero.

"Back then it was overwhelming. If I'd gone back then that would have been too much. But I'm going to Washington in October and I think I'm going to go to New York first. It'll be after the 10th anniversary and I have it in my mind that I'll re-trace my steps from that day."


From Belfast Telegraph