Bali Bombing

Bali bombing widow relives tragedy a decade on

Polly Brooks fled on fire from the terrorist blast, but her husband was among the 202 victims

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 07 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 07 October, 2012, 3:49am

The 10th anniversary of the Bali bombings falls on Friday, and for Polly Brooks it is a day that will take all her courage to bear.

The Briton narrowly escaped death 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 was Polly's husband Dan Miller, a 31-year-old lawyer.

They had been married for just five weeks.

Dan was in Bali with Hong Kong Football Club's Vandals rugby team playing in the Rugby 10s tournament, and was one of 11 people from Hong Kong killed in the attack. Most of them were Polly's friends, including her bridesmaid Annika Linden, 30.

Polly, who was working as a sales trader in Hong Kong, had been in the blast, too. She survived by pulling herself out of the burning Sari club, and running across collapsed roofs to safety.

"I was literally on fire and initially several Balinese were too frightened by the sight of a burning person running to give me any help," Polly recalls. A widow at 29, she suffered 43 per cent burns to her arms, legs and back, and underwent 11 skin-graft operations.

Ten years on Polly has rebuilt her life after returning home to Britain where she now lives in Guildford.

She tied the knot with fellow Briton Andy Brooks in August 2007 and has two children, Lawrence, four, and Nicola, two.

But the pain of the past is never far away. This Friday, Polly will attend a wreath-laying ceremony at 7pm in the Rotunda at the Hong Kong Football Club, in memory of those who died in the Bali tragedy. It will take all her strength, but she felt it was something she had to do.

"Of course, I know I'll be emotional and upset, but Dan and I were together only in Hong Kong. We didn't live together anywhere else," she said. "I just felt that this was the right place for me to be."

For the first few years after the tragedy, she blocked out the catastrophe. But with the support of family and friends, Polly slowly came to terms with it. She immersed herself in charity work, setting up Dan's Fund For Burns, which offers practical help to burns victims in the UK and has raised more than £1.5 million.

"The fact that some good came out of something so evil and horrific has helped me to accept it," Polly, 39, said.

Despite this she has had to battle with deep emotional scars.

"Today, I still often wonder: 'Why did I survive?'," she said.

For Dan's Fund For Burns, visit www.dansfundforburns.org