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Bombing 'was catalyst' for work
4:10pm Thursday 14th March 2013 in News
Twenty years ago Warrington was rocked by an IRA bomb attack which killed two children in the town. March 20 marks 20 years since the 1993 bombings. Over the next week, we will be looking at what happened then through the eyes of some of the key people involved.
THE sights, sounds and smells from March 20 linger on for the thousands caught up in the bombings.
As a 27-year-old assistant manager at McDonalds Conrad Jones was preparing for a busy day in charge while his boss was on holiday when the explosions hit.
Conrad, from Birchwood, recalls: “A member of staff looked at me and said ‘what was that? it sounds like a bomb’.
“The second went off, you could feel the vibration.”
There was a rush to clear the restaurant through the back door to avoid the devastation which lay at the front door.
Prams were carried over the counter as diners were sent away.
Conrad hung back - unsure what to do.
“Everything had become a danger. There were cars in the back streets and the bins at the front were threats.
“I called my area manager and he came to the Town Hall where us key holders were sent.
“He gave me a cigarette, it was the first one I had in five years and I have never stopped since.
“The weekend was a blur then on Monday we were contacted and told we could go and lock up the building.”
Standing at the top of Bridge Street - the busy shopping plaza had now become a giant crime scene.
“Can you imagine how shaken I was from seeing the bombings first hand and then having to go back to the scene and empty 10 tills on my hands and knees because the bins were potential danger.
“I was terrified and will never forget it.
“The store looked frozen in time, meat on the grills, buns in the toaster, Big Macs half dressed on trays and half eaten meals on the tables on dining area.
“It was emptying the tills keeping my head below the counter when it hit me what had happened.
“I cried like a baby putting the money into cash bags before locking it all in the safe and then locking the main doors before walking back up the planks.
“The staff were just as much affected as anyone else. One day a guy walked in and he spat in one of the girl’s face. He started ranting ‘you lot support the IRA, you give so much of your wage to the IRA a week’.”
This myth saw him become more actively involved in the community to quash any thoughts.
Conrad’s career has taken on a new life after he decided to pick up a pen and write crime thrillers.
His first book Soft Target was based on an anti-terrorism unit.
“The bombing was a catalyst for my work and it has been very cathartic writing.”