Shankill bomb ‘hero’ Raymond Elliott passes away

Raymond Elliott suffered serious trauma after he was one of the men who helped lift bodies out of the Shankill bomb site
Raymond Elliott suffered serious trauma after he was one of the men who helped lift bodies out of the Shankill bomb site

A woman who lost both her parents in the 1993 Shankill bomb has expressed her sadness at the passing of a man who risked his life attempting to rescue the victims.

Raymond Elliott suffered serious trauma as a result of being one of the first to enter the rubble of Frizzell’s fish shop following the IRA mass murder of nine civilians.

He may not have lost anybody but he was certainly another victim of the Shankill bomb

Michelle Williamson

One of the bombers, Thomas Begley, also died when the device he was planting exploded prematurely.

Mr Elliott, who died on Wednesday, was presented with a bravery award by the Royal Ulster Constabulary for his efforts, but within weeks was experiencing disturbing flashbacks so severe he had to spend time in a psychiatric unit.

Diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, he was unable to work again.

George and Gillian Williamson died as they were buying fish in Frizzell’s when the bombers struck.

Their daughter Michelle said she got to know Mr Elliott at various commemorations and took comfort in the knowledge he was there by their side.

“I’m just glad there was somebody there for my mum and dad. He always told me he had seen my mum but he would never tell me any more,” she said.

“I got to know Raymond and what he had been through. From what I could see he was deeply scarred. For 20 years after the Shankill that man’s face was totally etched with shock and horror.

“He may not have lost anybody in the Shankill but he was certainly another victim of the Shankill bomb”

On the 20th anniversary of the atrocity, Mr Elliott told the News Letter he would never forget what he saw in the carnage of the destroyed shop.

“My mind asks me why I didn’t save this one or that one. Everybody tells me that I did what I could, but if I had saved one I think it wouldn’t have hit me so much. That stuck in my head for a long, long time.

“It was just a mess inside, a real, real mess. I don’t want to talk about what I found. No-one will ever know the extent of what I saw, not even my wife Doreen.

“It’ll die along with me,” he said.

Ms Williamson described Mr Elliott as “the last link” to her mother and father.

“He may have taken my dad out of the rubble and maybe my mum,” she said.

“He was totally wiped out by the Shankill bomb. He was there, and he helped the people out of the shop, and it played on his mind what he had seen. I feel so sorry for his wife. I knew Raymond as a real gentleman and I haven’t stopping thinking about him since I heard he’d died.”