This year marks the 20th anniversary of the terrible 9/11 terrorist attacks in the USA. Twenty years since Karlie boarded her plane to New York city and never came back.
She was early into work in the North Tower on that Tuesday morning in New York. Enjoying that lovely Manhattan morning with its now infamous beautiful cloudless blue sky as she crossed the plaza and entered the building.
She started welcoming delegates into the RiskWalters conference as they arrived on the 106th floor. Without knowing it she inadvertently saved one man’s life that morning, politely turning him away as he attempted to enter without a ticket. He now calls her his guardian angel and he and his wife and their two lovely daughters are eternally grateful that she did. This year they will have enjoyed 20 years of family life as result of her actions and they say they are all totally indebted to her. Her legacy to them.
At 8.46 that morning five hijackers flew American Airlines Flight 11 into the north façade of the World Trade Center, North Tower (1WTC), severing all escape routes above the 90th floor and igniting a fire that would be impossible to put out. Karlie, all her colleagues and all the delegates attending perished.
At 26 she was just starting out on a life that should have been filled with adventure, love, laughter, fun and undoubtedly the patter of little footsteps. She was madly in love with her boyfriend Will and he took her to Heathrow on the Saturday afternoon to catch her flight and saw her off. He was never to see her again. Never to share that life with her. In the time that has passed since that day he has travelled the world, wanting to be alone. Eventually putting down roots and a life for himself in Australia. There he met and married a lovely English girl and now has 2 lovely boys.
For us as a family in the 20 years since that day a lot has happened.
We have raised money for Yeovil Hospital (where Karlie was born) which bought them much needed special heart monitor machines for newborn babies which, we hope, have been there when needed and helped to bring many of the next generation born in these 20 years safely into this world. A legacy to all of them from Karlie.
We also raised money for the charity fund for all those brave New York first responders who rushed to the burning WTC towers on that terrible day and sadly never made it back out. Back to their homes and to their families. Hopefully this has in some small way helped those grieving families to get through these 20 years. A legacy from her.
We have met with many brave people who worked tirelessly on the pile in New York city for the year following the collapse, many of them in those 20 years since have succumbed to terrible illnesses as a result of working and breathing the toxins present in the rubble. Thanks to their efforts and the advances of science they have managed to find and identify the remains of lost loved ones and returned them to the grieving families with the dignity they rightly deserved. Unfortunately, in these 20 years, we have not been one of those families.
In the natural way of things there have been many new additions to our family. None of this generation met Karlie, but hopefully over time their parents and grandparents will make sure that they know all about her and make sure that in the next 20 years she is not forgotten.
This year we will meet again in September at the memorial gardens in Grosvenor Square and talk about her, about those marvelous times we had with her. Tell stories to those that never met Karlie and strangely laugh a lot, because that was her way. Laugh and have fun. But that is what will be so heart breaking, in those little pauses in between, we will stand silently and realise again that Karlie and those times are gone, gone forever, and we will all shed tears. Our legacy to her.
Fly high our lovely girl, your family, friends and the rest of the world have been robbed of 20 years of your beauty, mischievousness and just downright fun and love.