Daughter of Blackpool couple killed in Tunisia beach attack tells of grief

Flowers in tribute to Denis and Elaine Thwaites
Flowers in tribute to Denis and Elaine Thwaites
  • Blackpool couple killed by Tunisian student Seifeddine Rezgui, 23
  • The gunman has links to terror organisation Islamic Stat
  • He opened fire on the couple and other holidaymakers in Sousse around noon last Friday
  • He left 38 dead, including up to 30 Britons
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The grieving daughter of a Blackpool couple killed in the Tunisia terror attack has told of her heartache at the devastating loss of her parents.

In an emotional tribute, Lindsey Clifford called Denis and Elaine Thwaites, “the kindest, caring, loving parents any daughter could wish for” after both were killed on Friday by Tunisian student Seifeddine Rezgui, 23.

Denis and Elaine Thwaites

Denis and Elaine Thwaites

The gunman, who has links to terror organisation Islamic State, opened fire on the couple and other holidaymakers in Sousse around noon, leaving 38 dead, including up to 30 Britons.

In a Facebook post on her husband Daniel Clifford’s account, Mrs Clifford said: “Mum and Dad were the kindest, caring, loving parents any daughter could wish for. Rest in Peace now my Angels xxxx.

Mr Clifford added: “There is now a void in our lives that will never be filled, but your thoughts and words will keep Lindsey & I strong at this most difficult time. Thank you x”

Yesterday the couple issued a further statement through Lancashire Police thanking the thousands of wellwishers who have paid their own tributes.

The kindest, caring, loving parents any daughter could wish for

Mr Clifford said: “Lindsey and I would like to express our extreme gratitude for the support from all family and friends.

“We would also 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 statement also confirmed Mr and Mrs Clifford flew out to Tunisia after last hearing from Mr and Mrs Thwaites on Thursday.

Flowers on the beach near the RIU Imperial Marhaba hotel in Sousse, Tunisia, as British holidaymakers defy the terrorists and continue to stay in Sousse despite the bloodbath on the beach

Flowers on the beach near the RIU Imperial Marhaba hotel in Sousse, Tunisia, as British holidaymakers defy the terrorists and continue to stay in Sousse despite the bloodbath on the beach

It added Mrs Clifford had identified her parents’ bodies - with the couple thanking police, the media, the Red Cross and counter terrorism officers for their support.

Mr Thwaites, 70, was from Stockton and Mrs Thwaites, 69, from Birmingham, but the pair lived in Blackpool.

They were staying at the Imperial Marhaba Hotel in Tunisia.

Mr Thwaites used to play for Birmingham FC and played for the club between 1962 to 1972.

Tourists look at flowers that have been laid on the beach near the RIU Imperial Marhaba hotel in Sousse, Tunisia

Tourists look at flowers that have been laid on the beach near the RIU Imperial Marhaba hotel in Sousse, Tunisia

He was part of the squad that won the club’s first major honour - the 1963 League Cup - and missed only six games between November 1964 and April 1966.

He also helped his second division team hold Manchester United, whose players included George Best, Bobby Charlton and Denis Law, to a 2-2 draw in an FA Cup tie in February 1969.

He moved to Blackpool where it is believed he became a hospital porter.

It is understood Mrs Thwaites worked in the Blackpool hotel industry.

Mr and Mrs Thwaites were residents in Paul Maynard MP’s Blackpool North constituency.

He spoke about the couple in Parliament on Monday - urging Prime Minister David Cameron to start working closely with nations on the southern Mediterranean coast.

Tourists look at flowers that have been laid on the beach near the RIU Imperial Marhaba hotel in Sousse, Tunisia

Tourists look at flowers that have been laid on the beach near the RIU Imperial Marhaba hotel in Sousse, Tunisia

In a tribute he told The Gazette: “I am deeply saddened by what has occurred in Tunisia and brings it home to people of Blackpool when it’s two or our own are lost to a terrorist attack.

“It is a long way away and brings it to our doorstep.

“Two people wanted to enjoy a week or two in the sun - something all of us want.

“It never crossed our minds this might occur.

“It shows how unexpected and shocking this can be when lives are cut short, particularly at the start of their retirement.”

And Gordon Marsden, MP for Blackpool South, tweeted: “Very sad to hear Denis and Elaine Thwaites among those killed in the terrorist attack in Sousse – condolences to their family.”

The bodies of Britons killed in the Tunisia beach massacre are set to begin returning today, as it was confirmed the UK death toll is expected to reach 30.

Prime Minister David Cameron’s official spokeswoman said 21 Britons had already been “positively identified” as victims of the murder spree, while another nine are believed to be among the dead.

The repatriation process is expected to take several days and will be followed by a joint inquest into the deaths of all the British victims.

All seriously injured Britons have now been flown out of Tunisia.

Authorities in Tunisia are quizzing seven suspected associates of gunman Rezgui, who was killed on Friday by police.