A taxi driver from Skegness is being hailed a hero after spending two harrowing hours searching for local lads caught up in the terror attack in Manchester which claimed the lives of 22 people.
Paul Jowett, who works for Premier Taxis, took the lads to Manchester Arena for last night’s Ariana Grande pop concert.
All I did was my job. It was to take the kids to the arena and bring them home. That’s what I did.Paul Jowett, who works for Premier Taxis and who transported the lads to Manchester and brought them safely home
He said his instructions from their mother was to take them to the arena and see them safely inside and pick them up afterwards and return them home.
At 10.30pm, the eldest son, in his late teens, was still in touch and asking for 15 minutes more before being collected.
But then everything changed – with an explosion at the arena.
Mr Jowett, who spoke to The Standard yesterday morning (Tuesday), unable to sleep since returning the boys safely back to their frantic mother at about 4am, said: “I got the call to come and pick them up immediately as there had been a terror attack.
“I was parked about three minutes away and I was going to park outside the arena no matter what. But when I got closer the police turned me away so I had to find somewhere else to park.
“It was absolutely chaos. People were everywhere – walking wounded, children covered in blood.
“It was mass panic.
“I called the eldest boy and he told me he was stood by the train station close to a crane and a burger van.
“Then his phone died.
“When I got close I saw the burger van go past me and the boys were nowhere to be seen.
“I thought ‘what do I do now?’”
Luckily, the eldest son found another taxi driver who let him charge up his phone and he got back in touch with Mr Jowett.
“They told me where they were and I picked them up and brought them home,” said Mr Jowett.
“They were shaken but otherwise fine. Their mum had been in touch with the taxi firm throughout the night getting updates.
“All I did was my job. It was to take the kids to the arena and bring them home. That’s what I did.”
Catherine Booth, one of the owners of Premier Taxis, said they were incredibly proud of Mr Jowett. She said: “Paul was amazing. He was on the phone to us and he was not leaving Manchester without those boys – even if they had gone to hospital he was not going to leave them.
“He says he was just doing his job but it did far more than that – he was brilliant. We are a family business and we are so proud of him.”
The lads’ mother told the Standard: “I just want to say thank you to Cath and the staff at the taxi firm for the support they gave the children and myself.”