Home World British man loses entire family in Sri Lanka terror bombings

British man loses entire family in Sri Lanka terror bombings

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The Telegraph

A British father whose entire family were killed in the suspected terror attack in Sri Lanka has paid tribute to his “talented and thoughtful” children and his “brilliant, loving” wife.

Ben Nicholson said his wife Anita, 42, son Alex, 14, and daughter Annabel, 11, had been killed as they sat at a table for breakfast in the Shangri-la Hotel in Colombo on Easter Sunday.

“Mercifully, all three of them died instantly and with no pain or suffering,” Mr Nicholson said.

They were on the second floor of the luxury hotel when two suicide bombers walked in and blew themselves up as part of eight co-ordinated attacks which killed 290 people.

Billy Harrop, 56, a retired firefighter, and his wife Sally, originally from ­Manchester, were also killed, while two other British nationals, with dual American citizenship, were also thought to be among the dead.

In a statement released by the Foreign Office, Mr Nicholson said: “I am deeply distressed at the loss of my wife and children. Anita was a wonderful, perfect wife and a brilliant, loving and inspirational mother to our two wonderful children. The holiday we had just enjoyed was a testament to Anita’s enjoyment of travel and providing a rich and colourful life for our family, and especially our children.

“Alex and Annabel were the most amazing, intelligent, talented and thoughtful children and Anita and I were immensely proud of them both and looking forward to seeing them develop into adulthood. They shared with their mother the priceless ability to light up any room they entered and bring joy to the lives of all they came into contact with.”

Waisale Serevi, a retired professional rugby player and member of the World Rugby Hall of Fame, told The Telegraph that he and Mr ­Nicholson would coach aspiring young players in Singapore together.

Mr Serevi said Alex had dreamed of being a professional player and he had coached him at a rugby camp only weeks ago.

Mr Serevi said: “Ben is a really nice guy. Alex wanted to be a professional rugby player and he said thank you for the drill, I will use it, and he said I want to play like you, and I said to Alex, nothing is impossible in life, you can do it.

“And he was smiling and I hugged him and wished him well and I said all the best to you. Little did I know it was the last time we would meet.”

Hospital staff have described the harrowing moments after the bomb blast in which Mr Nicholson wandered the streets and hospitals desperately trying to find his loved ones in the aftermath of the blasts.

“I saw him covered in blood like this, walking up and down just there,” Pushpa Zoysa, who is in charge of the emergency triage at the National Hospital in Colombo, told Mail Online. “He just kept asking about his family members.”

Anita Nicholson was killed along with her two children – Credit: FacebookView photos
Anita Nicholson was killed along with her two children Credit: Facebook
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The Nicholson family were based in Singapore and in the country for a family holiday at the time of the attack.

Mr Nicholson is a partner at Kennedys Legal Solutions while his wife was a former legal adviser to the UK Treasury. According to her LinkedIn profile, she was currently managing counsel at the mining and metals company Anglo American.

Mr Nicholson also thanked the medical teams at General Hospital, Colombo “for treating Anita, Alex and Annabel with great dignity and me with kindness and sympathy” as well as “the Sri Lankan people I have encountered in Colombo following this catastrophe”.

“Anita, Alex and Annabel leave behind a large extended family and many close and cherished friends who are now grieving this tragic loss,” he said. “We shall all miss them dearly. We are all grateful for the many expressions of support and good wishes.”