British parents feared children were in wreckage

The Families
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The Independent Online

The father of a 17-year-old musician from Suffolk due to stay in the Hotelissimo hotel, which was hit by the stricken Concorde, yesterday said he felt "absolutely cold" when he learnt of the disaster.

The father of a 17-year-old musician from Suffolk due to stay in the Hotelissimo hotel, which was hit by the stricken Concorde, yesterday said he felt "absolutely cold" when he learnt of the disaster.

Pat East, from Woodbridge, did not know his son, Simon, was safe. Simon, a saxophonist with Suffolk Youth Wind Band, was an hour away from booking in when the jet went down on the outskirts of Paris.

Mr East said: "I heard about the crash on Radio 4 and rushed downstairs to see where Simon was staying, because I could not remember. Then I read the name in the travel details we had been given. I heard them say it on the TV and I went absolutely cold. I knew they were to arrive at the hotel at 5pm - but I kept thinking they might have got there early."

Three minutes later staff from the county council's education department, working through a list of parents of the musicians, phoned him to say Simon was fine. "I was just so relieved," Mr East said.

Other parents went through the same ordeal. Adrian Hopgood, head of music at Westbourne High School in Ipswich, was listening to cricket on the radio when it was interrupted by a flash about the crash. He knew his 17-year-old daughter, Andrea, a euphonium player, was due to stay in the hotel. "I was panic-stricken," Mr Hopgood said. "For about half an hour I was fearing the worst. Andrea is our only child and we thought we had lost her. We were feeling pure panic and were terrified. My wife was very upset. It was absolutely the worst feeling of my life. It has now turned to sadness for the people who must have felt the same as me and now know they lost loved ones."

The band was found rooms in other hotels in the area. Another 98 teenagers from the main orchestra and 12 adults were booked into the Ibis hotel, half-a-mile from the crash site. Both groups of musicians were on a five-day tour of Paris and nearby towns. Their 13 concerts included events in Reims, in the heart of Champagne, the Jardine de Luxembourg and churches in Paris, and a cathedral in Meaux, east of Paris. Those on the wind band coach were stuck in traffic miles from the Hotelissimo.

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