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Ilkeston survivor of Tunisia terror attack lands dream university spot

Millie Braisby, 18, is hoping to start a new life in New York later this year as she seeks to move on from the devastation of the Tunisia terror attack.
Millie Braisby, 18, is hoping to start a new life in New York later this year as she seeks to move on from the devastation of the Tunisia terror attack.

An Ilkeston teenager who survived the 2015 terror attack in Sousse, Tunisia, is looking forward to starting a new life at a top university in New York later this year - if she can find a way to pay for it.

Millie Braisby, 18, has been offered a place at the prestigious LIM college in Midtown Manhattan, which specialises in the business of fashion, starting this autumn.

Millie with mum Zoe and stepdad Paul, also both survivors of the attack.

Millie with mum Zoe and stepdad Paul, also both survivors of the attack.

She said: “The offer came through just before Christmas and I was so excited. I’ve applied to do a degree in fashion media and LIM was my number one choice.

“It a chance to combine all the things I love, with a course which includes marketing, journalism, and merchandising.

“I think the chance to live abroad and start a new chapter will definitely make it easier to move on from everything that has happened in the last few years.”

For any youngster dreaming of a career in fashion, it is the opportunity of a lifetime but Millie has set her sights on the Big Apple for other reasons too.

Millie on GCSE results day in 2016.

Millie on GCSE results day in 2016.

She said: “In April 2017, I was invited on a Young Ambassadors Program in New York with a great charity called Strength to Strength, which works with survivors of terrorism all around the world.

“I found support and understanding from kids around my age who had been affected by other terrorist attacks, and it was a turning point for me.

“I gained a lot of comfort sharing my experiences and realising I wasn’t alone in my struggles to come to terms with what happened.

“That cemented where I want to go in my mind. If I’m based in New York I can do more work with the charity, and help do the same for other people in future.”

Millie was 15 at the time of the attack, and on holiday with her mum Zoe and stepdad Paul, when a gunman killed 38 people at the Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel.

The family were separated amid the panic, but were all lucky enough to survive.

The devastation she witnessed, and the emotions she endured, left Millie with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - which still presents challenges her two years on.

She said: “I’m doing much better now, but I still get flashbacks, nightmares, and sometimes struggle to concentrate. The panic I feel is horrific.

“The gunman came in to where I thought I’d found safety, chasing people down the corridor and shooting. I prepared to die there, telling myself it wouldn’t hurt and would be quick.”

“Even when I was told it was safe to come out, I was in severe shock and I had no idea if my mum and Paul may be among the dead. The things I saw will stay with me forever.

“The guilt I feel as a survivor is off the scale too. Why did I get to live? Why did all those innocent people have to die?

As the family each sought a way to recover from the most immediate effects of the trauma, Millie missed eight months of school but still came out with the GCSE grades she needed to continue her education.

She has been catching up ever since, and is now attempting to complete her A-levels in English, media and sociology in just one year at Kirk Hallam Sixth Form.

She has also been getting a headstart in the media world with weekly shifts at Erewash Sound radio station.

Millie said: “It’s been hard to keep everything going but I’m managing. I will not let the attack define me, terrorism cannot win.”

All being well, she will get the grades she needs for LIM this summer, but that still leaves the family to find a way of funding the annual tuition fees of £26,000.

They are currently investigating scholarship opportunities, and have launched an online crowdfunding campaign for part of the first year’s fees.

To make a donation, find the page at www.gofundme.com/terrorism-cannot-win.