Saturday 3 December 2016

Paris Terror Attacks: British Bataclan victim Nick Alexander died in the arms of a friend

Published 15/11/2015 | 17:10

Undated family handout photo issued by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office of Briton, Nick Alexander, who died in the Bataclan massacre, in Paris, France. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Saturday November 14, 2015. See PA story POLICE Paris. Photo credit should read: Foreign & Commonwealth Office /PA Wire
NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
Undated family handout photo issued by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office of Briton, Nick Alexander, who died in the Bataclan massacre, in Paris, France. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Saturday November 14, 2015. See PA story POLICE Paris. Photo credit should read: Foreign & Commonwealth Office /PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

A friend of a British man killed in the massacre at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris has described how she held him in her arms before he died.

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Nick Alexander was described by his family as "everyone's best friend", and they said he died "doing the job he loved".

KILLED: Nick Alexander
KILLED: Nick Alexander

The 36-year-old from Colchester in Essex, had been selling merchandise for rock band Eagles of Death Metal when their concert was targeted by attackers who shot people and took hostages in the venue before blowing themselves up as police stormed the concert hall.

Helen Wilson told the Telegraph she and Mr Alexander, who had previously been in a relationship, lay down on the floor when up to six people with machine guns and shotguns began to shoot.

The American, who moved to Paris where she runs a catering company, said someone moved and the attackers turned to them and fired shots.

Miss Wilson, who was shot in the leg during the attack, said she tried to give Mr Alexander mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

Polina Volkova, a friend of Eagles Of Death Metal's merchandise manager Nick Alexander (R in photograph), who died in attacks in Paris, cries as she sits near a makeshift memorial during a vigil outside the consulate of France in the Manhattan borough of New York November 14, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Polina Volkova, a friend of Eagles Of Death Metal's merchandise manager Nick Alexander (R in photograph), who died in attacks in Paris, cries as she sits near a makeshift memorial during a vigil outside the consulate of France in the Manhattan borough of New York November 14, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Polina Volkova, a friend of Eagles Of Death Metal Nick Alexander who died in attacks in Paris, cries as she sits near a makeshift vigil outside the consulate of France in the Manhattan borough of New York November 14, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Polina Volkova, a friend of Eagles Of Death Metal Nick Alexander who died in attacks in Paris, cries as she sits near a makeshift vigil outside the consulate of France in the Manhattan borough of New York November 14, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

She said: "Then he couldn't breathe any more and I held him in my arms and told him I loved him. He was the love of my life."

In a statement his family said: "Nick was not just our brother, son and uncle, he was everyone's best friend - generous, funny and fiercely loyal.

"Nick died doing the job he loved and we take great comfort in knowing how much he was cherished by his friends around the world. Thank you for your thoughts and respect for our family at this difficult time. Peace and light."

Mr Alexander's girlfriend Polina Buckley was one of the many relatives of those feared dead in the attacks who used social media to get information about his whereabouts.

After confirmation of his death she posted pictures of the pair on Twitter, writing: "You are and always will be the love of my life, Nick Alexander", and "Sleep tight, my sweet prince, Nick Alexander".

Mr Alexander had been part of the Africa Express music project, founded by Blur's Damon Albarn and writer and campaigner Ian Birrell, when it toured Britain in 2012.

He sold merchandise on the trip and was described by Mr Birrell as "a hero".

"He loved music, lived with a smile on his face, died a hero," he tweeted.

A witness in the Bataclan said one of the gunmen shouted "Allahu Akbar" and said "This is for Syria". Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the atrocities.

Drummer Patrick Carney from American rock band The Black Keys told Rolling Stone: "I spent a lot of time with Nick, but the thing about the touring merch job, it's one of the more thankless jobs.

"You do it because you just want to travel and you're interested in meeting new people and it's really hard work. It's not the job you take if you're into partying.

"he was a really organised, super-hard worker, really funny. I remember him always very content with being on tour.

"It was what seems to make him the happiest. After shows, when everyone would go wild or whatever, he would also be really reserved. He was just a sweetheart, that guy."

He added: "I remember he looked more like a rock star than anyone else on the tour, in the best possible sense.

"He never complained. He was more interested in touring than anybody else that was on tour at any given point."

Carney's Black Keys bandmate Dan Auerbach told Rolling Stone that Mr Alexander lived for rock and roll.

"He was always there, really nice guy, always with his mod haircut and his big smile ... He was just a really nice guy. Always. Just loved rock and roll. He was just an absolute rock and roll guy. Lived for it," he said.

The singer Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam) tweeted: "Just read Nick Alexander was killed in Paris. He was our tour merchandiser on last year's tour. Sending love & condolences to his family."

The director of Colchester Arts Centre, where he used to run a club night, said his death was "desperately sad".

Anthony Roberts said Mr Alexander was "well-known" in the town and used to run a monthly club night at the centre.

"He was the creator, instigator, DJ and the personality of the club night," he told the BBC.

"He was a particularly lively and driven character and had a lot of charm, but could back it up by being clever."

The Nick Alexander memorial fund has so far raised more than 45,000 US dollars (about £30,000) online.

Miguel Benavides created the fundraising page on gofundme.com and a note on the page says: "My initial goal for this fund was to benefit my friend in the most direct way that was calling to me.

"I personally want to help his family. Two things happened: we reached a significant amount quickly, and our extended tour family pointed out a basic rule of the road: we take care of our own, even the ones we don't personally know.

"Taking this to heart, we are converting this fund to taking care of more than just Nick."

Rev David Newman, Mr Alexander's family vicar, described him as "very, very thoughtful".

Speaking to ITV News, from the church near the family's home, he said: "We are all deeply, deeply shocked by this terrible event.

"The Alexanders are a well respected local family and have been part of the church community since they came here.

"Nick was brought up in the church and it's something that will be felt not only by his immediate friends but by all of us.

"I believe that in due course the community will cohere and do as it can to support the Alexander family and all those who knew, respected and were so fond of Nick throughout his life.

"He was an acolyte in church. Always very reliable. He was at the grammar school. Like most young people, when he went off to university we saw much less of him.

"But when he came home he came along with his family to church and with all his globetrotting with his work since then, he has always attended when he can and been a very welcome presence with us.

"He was very, very thoughtful - especially to older people. Even when he was a schoolboy he used to go and help by reading to blind people, and many other kindnesses that perhaps one might not expect from a boy of that age.

"Throughout his life he has been the same person, and that person is one of kindliness and thoughtfulness."

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