The bodies of Denis and Elaine Thwaites from Blackpool, who were murdered in last week’s Tunisian terrorist attack have been flown home.
The North Shore couple, shot while relaxing at the resort of Sousse last Friday, were brought home by an RAF C-17 to Brize Norton.
Bearer parties from the RAF carried the coffins down from the hold of the aircraft to a fleet of waiting hearses while servicemen stood in salute.
They were among the first eight victims to returned along with Adrian Evans, Patrick Evans, Joel Richards, Carly Lovett, Stephen Mellor and John Stollery
The people of Blackpool are being urged to stop for a minute’s silence on Friday as a mark of respect for the victims of the Tunisia terror attack.
Blackpool Town Hall will be the focus of the event in honour of Denis, 70 and Elaine, 69, who died when 23-year-old student Siefeddine Rezgui opened fire on defenceless tourists near their hotel, the Imperial Marhaba, killing 38.
Words can’t express what all the family are feeling at this difficult time
The couple’s daughter Lindsey and her husband Daniel Clifford flew out to Tunisia and identified the bodies.
They said: “We would like to express our gratitude for the support and messages received from everyone.
“Words can’t express what all the family are feeling at this difficult time.”
The Prime Minister David Cameron has announced a national minute’s silence at noon tomorrow and a minute’s silence will take place on the steps of Blackpool Town Hall.
The public are invited to join staff at Talbot Square for the tribute and the Town Hall flag will fly at half mast.
North Pier is to show a message of support at the same time.
Spokesman David Gore said: “We will be running a message of sympathy and support to coincide with Friday’s minute’s silence on the big screen at both North Pier and The Pyramid venue on Central Promenade.”
Council Leader Simon Blackburn will lead the minute’s silence for people to pay their respects to the Thwaites family and to all those affected by the tragedy.
Coun Blackburn said: “The incident in Tunisia is a shocking one and my thoughts go out to all the families whose lives has been changed forever by it. That is especially pertinent for the Thwaites family.
“My sympathies go out to them and, on behalf of everybody at Blackpool Council, I will be writing to the family expressing our sincerest condolences.
“The minute’s silence on Friday is the best way that we can pay our respects to them and I do hope that members of the Blackpool public will turn out to join us on the Town Hall steps.”
Denis, who was a former Birmingham FC footballer, and Elaine, who worked in the hotels industry, were among the 38 dead
A Birmingham City FC spokesman said today: “We are deeply shocked and saddened by the death of former player Denis Thwaites and his wife Elaine in the Tunisian terrorist attack. Our thoughts are with Denis’ family. The club also offers its condolences to all who are mourning loved ones due to this atrocity.”
Business leaders have echoed the call for the event.
North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce chief executive Babs Murphy said: “What happened in Tunisia was heart breaking and when the people involved are from our community it really hits home.
“It is right that Blackpool Council is marking the deaths of Denis and Elaine Thwaites in this way and I would urge all members of the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, and indeed the whole business community of this area, to join with them to pay their respects.
“This atrocity was a completely indiscriminate act and as such could have happened to any member of anyone’s family or any close work colleague.
“Our thoughts are with the Thwaites family at what must be a very difficult time.”