Harrogate woman flees from Tunisian terror

Ellie Makin was back in the UK by Saturday morning
Ellie Makin was back in the UK by Saturday morning

A Harrogate survivor of the terrorist attack in Tunisia has told how she hid in a hotel bathroom and phoned her father back home as the shooting began.

Ellie Makin, 22, flew to North Africa last Wednesday for a relaxing tennis holiday with a friend but after the events on Friday, their holiday was cut short.

I just left everything and started shouting ‘there’s a gun’ and running as fast as I could. All I could think was ‘get inside’.

Ellie Makin, Harrogate tennis coach

Miss Makin is an ex-professional tennis player who now coaches for The Academy and for Harrogate Racquets Club and attended St Aidan’s High School in Harrogate.

She said; “We were having a beach day and I stood up off my sunbed to have a nosey around, when I saw the gun and then it all started.

“I just left everything and started shouting ‘there’s a gun’ and running as fast as I could. All I could think was ‘get inside’.”

Miss Makin came back on the first flight home and was back in the UK on Saturday morning.

She said “The day before everything was normal, we could have had a pool day but we just decided to stay by the beach because we liked it.”

Tourists who fled the beach were told they would be safe in the Bellevue hotel foyer, where Miss Makin was staying.

Miss Makin said: “We were asking staff where was the best place to hide when someone shouted that he was coming into the hotel.

“I ran up the stairs and went up a few floors and then hid in the bathroom of some random person’s room, with a few other people.

“There were no windows so we didn’t know what was happening outside all we could here was gunshots getting closer and closer, so we had no idea where he was – he could have been just outside the room.

“I rang my dad and I was telling him as fast as I could that there was a man with a gun killing people, just trying so hard to explain as quickly as possible before I had to go, because I needed to hide.

“I was texting my mum who was watching the news and telling me what they were saying. The news was reporting they had caught him when they hadn’t at all.

“They were trying to stay calm on the phone to me just so that it didnt reflect on me, I was already in such a state, I was in such disbelief, it was just unbearable.”

Ellie had been separated from her friend when they ran from the beach, but eventually she had to take a chance and leave her hiding place.

She said ”It was literally a chance, I rang my friend about half an hour after we heard no more shooting, but by that time I didnt trust anyone.

“I refused to come out until I spoke to a hotel manager who said it was safe. I asked her to put the hotel staff on the phone who said to me it was safe to come out.”

After the attack was over, Miss Makin described everybody as on edge, with any loud noises or sudden movements startling everybody.

She said: “I would only go somewhere where there was an escape route.”

Miss Makin has been close friends with her holiday companion Debbie for 10 years and described her as a ‘life friend’.

Ellie and her friend will be fully refunded for the holiday by Thomson, who they booked with.

Thomson also offer a crisis service for holidaymakers who are affected by events like this, which Ellie says she is interested in.

She said: “I am in the process of speaking to Thomson who give out crisis support for situations like these I will be speaking to them just to see what they can offer me.”

But after leaving numerous belongings on the beach in the fight to stay alive, she said: “I’m not bothered about what I left on the beach, they would just bring back bad memories.”

Since she got back Miss Makin has been trying to come to terms with what happened and take the time to visit family.

She said: “It is life changing really, going through a near death experience you have got to really live your life after that. I am going to try and see most of my family, I have received phenomenal support from my friends and family it has just been amazing.”

A minute’s silence has been arranged for tomorrow at 12pm to remember the victims lost in the attack, which Ellie said she will definitely honour, more than likely at home.