BBC Manchester: Remembering 9/11 – The Gordon Burns Show

This morning I was up surprisingly early. However, the reason for this was more than worth the absence of my usual Sunday lie-in. You see, I was invited to join BBC legend and hugely accomplished broadcast journalist, Gordon Burns, on his first ever radio show. It was broadcast across both BBC Manchester and BBC Lancashire…such is the popularity of the BBC North West Tonight chief anchorman! Gordon retires from BBC North West Tonight this month but luckily for viewers can be heard every Sunday, 9-11am on both stations.

I grew up watching Gordon present The Krypton Factor – a programme my late Irish father absolutely loved. My dad particularly liked Gordon as he was a “Belfast man” like himself. Indeed, Gordon was born in Belfast and went to school there too. There’s a great sense of pride among Northern Irish people for anyone who has gone on and ‘done well for themselves’ (!) so, when I told my family I was going to be on Gordon’s first show reviewing the newspapers, they were all really pleased.

But there’s more… wait for this! Last night (Saturday) my phone goes while I am watching X-Factor and it is none other than Gordon himself ringing to say a friendly hello in advance of this morning’s show and to put me at ease. I tried to play it cool (!) but the truth is I was both flattered and very touched.

So, back to today’s hour-long newspaper review. I was on with the very distinguished journalist and former Manchester Evening News editor Paul Horrocks and it was a really enjoyable experience and naturally Gordon took to the world of radio broadcasting instantly!

However, the subject matter for the bulk of the first 30 minutes had a serious tone and rightly so. With today being the tenth anniversary of 9/11 terror attacks on the Twin Towers in New York, the news content in the papers focused highly on this. Intermixed with the paper review, Gordon interviewed a remarkable British man called Dermot Finch (originally from Clitheroe) who was caught between both towers on that fateful morning. We were all deeply moved by Dermot’s memories of literally running for his life from the towers and being dragged to safety by a police officer into the New York Stock Exchange building.

On a personal note, I recall being so glad to be home in Manchester and safe on the day of the attacks – I was back from work in London and had just jumped on a bus to head to see my mum when a journalist colleague phoned me and explained that I should get to a TV as quick as possible. Like so many I was in complete shock at what I watched on the news. For me, New York (Manhattan especially) was and is a very special place. It was somewhere I had worked on occasion and spent some great holidays. To see the scenes of horror and devastation in the city that held such magical memories, was just mindblowing.

Today, watching the tributes and special services commemorating the day, I’m reminded of the incredible power of love, support, forgiveness and the importance of rituals following great loss (and shock). Yes, those left behind are still grieving but picking up the pieces too – I wish each and every one of them the absolute best x

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