Memory of Hong Kong loved ones who died in Bali blasts celebrated
It was an occasion tinged with sorrow and pain. However, the ceremony at Hong Kong Football Club last night to mark the 10th anniversary of the Bali bombings was also a time to celebrate the memory of loved and cherished friends.
When two bombs were detonated at Kuta Beach, ripping apart Paddy's bar and the Sari Club shortly after 11.30pm on October 12, 2002, among the 202 people killed were 11 from Hong Kong. Many were members of Hong Kong Football Club's Vandals rugby team which was playing in a rugby 10s tournament.
In a dignified and respectful ceremony, Football Club stalwart Bill Morrison spoke a few poignant words before wreaths were laid and a two-minute silence observed.
For one person, in particular, it was a day filled with conflicting emotions. Polly Brooks' husband Dan Miller, a 31-year-old lawyer, was one of those killed. They had been married for just five weeks. The 39-year-old was working as a sales trader in Hong Kong, and had been in the blast.
She survived by pulling herself out of the burning Sari Club, and running across collapsed roofs to safety. She had 43 per cent burns to her arms, legs and back, and underwent 11 skin-graft operations.
"I've been asked a lot of times if I felt very unlucky because of what happened. At the time I thought that I was the unlucky one as I had survived and had to somehow carry on - that those who died had the easy way out," she said. "But I am the lucky one, because I am here tonight surrounded by love."
Ten years on, Brooks has rebuilt her life after returning home to Britain, where she now lives in Guildford, Surrey. She wed fellow Briton Andy Brooks in August 2007 and they have two children, Lawrence, four, and Nicola, two.
But the pain of the past is never far. "My heart breaks every time I think of them, but I don't want everyone to be sad. I want everyone to remember the amazing times that we all had together," Brooks said.
"My life was shattered but very gradually it was put back together again, piece by piece, thanks to the love and support from so many people, especially here in Hong Kong. These people saw me at my very lowest, and helped me through the very worst of it. I'm just thrilled to be back here today."