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Gill Hicks

b. 1968

Gillian Hicks AM MBE (b. 1968), peace advocate, motivational speaker, author and curator, is the founder of the London-based not-for-profit organisation MAD [Making a Difference] for Peace. Having grown up in Adelaide, she moved to London in 1991 without a degree or any experience in journalism, but gained a job with Marie Claire magazine nonetheless. In due course, she became involved with a number of design consultancies, was publishing director of the design and architectural magazine Blueprint, director of the design and publishing concern Dangerous Minds and a senior curator with the Design Council. On 7 July 2005 Hicks set out for work as usual; within hours, she was the last living casualty rescued from the London Underground bombings. Her injuries were so severe that rescuers could not even tell if she was a man or a woman; her name was unknown; having lost some 80 per cent of her blood, she was not expected to live. She was admitted to St Thomas’s Hospital tagged ‘One Unknown’. Both her legs were amputated below the knee. As soon as she was able to walk, Hicks visited Beeston, where three of the bombers had come from, and met members of their community, who embraced her. Her first book, One Unknown, was published in 2006. Two and a half years after the bombing, she walked more than 430 kilometres from Leeds to London, inviting people from different communities to walk with her and communicate with one another. In 2008, she carried the Olympic torch in Canberra. Having returned to Adelaide in 2012, and given birth to her first baby, a girl, at the age of 45, Hicks was named South Australian of the year in November 2014. She returned to London to feature prominently in ceremonies marking the tenth anniversary of the bombings. She was cited in the 2016 Australia Day honours list for ‘significant service to the promotion of peace in the community through public engagement, education and network building initiatives’. Hicks has two honorary doctorates: from the London Metropolitan University, in recognition of her contribution to architecture and design and her promotion of sustainable peace; and from Kingston University, in recognition of her dedication to rehabilitative health.

Updated 2018