Lavenham butcher describes the moment he and colleagues were caught in Westminster terror attack
A Lavenham butcher who was at the House of Commons during Wednesday’s terrorist attack has described the moment he and colleagues fled into the building.
The team from Lavenham Butchers were at Westminster where they had just received a highly commended in the Countryside Alliance Awards’ best butcher category.
They were about to have their picture taken on the steps outside the House of Commons when a man drove a car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge and crashed into railings.
The terrorist then entered the grounds of Parliament and fatally stabbed a policeman.
He was shot dead by police.
Four people died and they are PC Keith Palmer, teacher Aysha Frade, a man in his 50s and the attacker. Scores of people were injured.
Greg Strolenberg, who runs Lavenham Butchers with Gareth Doherty, said: “We got out the front and that’s when the car crashed into the barrier.
“We heard the car and saw the smoke come out.
“Lots of people just started running, shouting for help and screaming.
“Then there were gunshots which we now know was the terrorist being shot.
“We just ran inside because the police were saying ‘get in, get in’.
“There was people running everywhere. We didn’t know whether it was somebody with a gun like in Paris.
“You can’t prepare yourself to be in a situation like that.
“The scary bit was that after the shots and with everyone running to get in somewhere you don’t know whois out there and who fired the shots.
“I don’t think there was anyone there who wasn’t scared.”
They were kept in the House of Commons for two hours before being moved to Westminster Abbey.
They were amongst the first police to be interviewed by police about what they had seen.
Mr Strolenberg was at Westminster with his wife Jennifer, Mr Doherty and his wife Nicola as well as their head butcher Andy Gleed.
He praised the actions of police and the bravery of PC Keith Palmer, who was guarding the palace.
“The police are absolutely amazing and you take it for granted that they’re just there,” Mr Strolenberg added. “He gave his life to protect everyone around.”
Bury St Edmunds MP Jo Churchill was in the division around the voting lobby when they received instructions to remain where they were due to the incident.
Yesterday she paid tribute to those who were killed and injured as well as the police and parademics.
“We have incredible staff here who have to tread a fine balance between protecting us and keeping our Parliament open for people,” Mrs Churchill said.
“I’m in my office now and it’s quite eerie because it’s quiet.
“We walked in and the streets were cordoned.
“I wouldn’t want it to be like this - it’s the people’s Parliament.
“The texts and support that I’ve got from constituents and people I’m working with in the constituency were lovely.
“I received a text from somebody who said he couldn’t be prouder both in our public services and our democracy.”
West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock said he was voting in the Commons at the time of the attack.
“I have only praise for the immediate and highly professional response of the police to secure the building and everyone in it: MPs, staff and the public alike, he added,
“I want to thank constituents for all the messages of support I’ve received.
“What happened yesterday is a reminder that however robust our democracy can be, the fact that we make decisions that way, through open debate by elected representatives, is precious, and must be defended.”
The Rt Revd Martin Seeley, Bishop of the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, said: “This cowardly and depraved attack will not undermine our shared values.
“It is important to remember that if it does turn out to be motivated by Islamist extremism that the members of the Muslim community in our county will be just as shocked and appalled as all of us are by these events.
“It is vital that we continue to strive to strengthen all our communities and learn to value our good differences, and resolve our profound disagreements through debate and democratic process.”
Assistant Chief Constable Louisa Pepper, of Suffolk Police, said: “Events like these reinforce the need for us all to pull together, remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity.”
More by this authorPaul Derrick