Family relives holiday horror in Tunisia

The Marhaba Salem Hotel where Lesley and the girls stayed
The Marhaba Salem Hotel where Lesley and the girls stayed

A mum has spoken of the terrifying moment gunfire broke out while she was on holiday in Tunisia.

Lesley Brennan, her 17-year-old daughter Zoe and teenage pals Jennifer Bruce and Sara Gray were caught up in the shocking beach attack in Sousse which left 38 people dead.

The East Dunbartonshire businesswoman was relaxing at the pool with the three girls at neighbouring holiday hotel Marhaba Salem, when the terrorist attack took place on Friday.

She told the Herald: “All mayhem broke loose. A security guard said someone had been shot. It was difficult to take it in.

“Then the word ‘terrorist’ was heard and there was complete panic.

“It was terrifying. I just burst into tears.”

Lesley said she and the girls stayed put inside their own hotel as she felt it was the safest place to be.

She added: “The hotel complex had high security. We reckoned the best thing was to stay there. Our reps from Thomson were brilliant but they couldn’t get a lot of information.

“People back home were also trying to find out what had happened. We had a lot of phone calls and messages and everyone was crying and emotional.”

Lesley’s husband and her 14-year-old daughter Amy were at home in Scotland at the time.

She said: “The holiday to Tunisia was really for my daughter and her friends who had all just left Kirkintilloch High School. I went along with them.”

In a quirk of fate, Lesley said all four of them had intended to go to the beach on the day of the shooting but at the last minute, had decided to cancel.

She told the Herald: “My daughter said she couldn’t really be bothered to go to the beach or we could have been there.

“We just feel we were so very lucky. Other people weren’t. The lives of other families have been wrecked and it’s so upsetting people lost their lives. Some of the stories coming out are horrifying.”

Lesley, who owns a cleaning firm in the Eastside area of Kirkintilloch, returned home with the girls on their scheduled flight early on Monday morning. She said the mood was sombre, particularly as Cumbernauld couple Jim and Ann McQuire, who both died on the beach, had been due to fly home on the same flight.

Lesley said: “Everyone was exhausted and it was very emotional as some people had spoken to the two of them on the journey out to Tunisia.”

Despite her terrifying ordeal, Lesley said she would go back to Tunisia.

She said: “I definitely would go back. It’s a wonderful place and the people are fantastic.

“You can’t live your life in fear. I’m not going to do that.”