In­spi­ra­tional Josie en­gaged to marry long-term part­ner

Cou­ple have been to­gether for 12 years ‘It was a won­der­ful mo­ment be­cause Iwan is not only a won­der­ful man, he’s my best friend’

Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District - - Dreadful Secret Of Reed Pond - By Gerry War­ren gwar­ren@thek­m­group.co.uk @Ger­ry_war­ren

She mirac­u­lously sur­vived a bru­tal ham­mer at­tack in the coun­try­side near Can­ter­bury in which her mother and sis­ter were mur­dered.

Now Josie Rus­sell, whose courage first cap­tured the na­tion’s hearts 21 years ago, is set to start a new chap­ter in her life af­ter re­veal­ing she is en­gaged to be mar­ried.

She is to wed her long-term boyfriend Iwan Grif­fith, a fire­alarm en­gi­neer she met at a pub 12 years ago while at univer­sity. He pro­posed at Christ­mas.

Josie, now 30, was just nine and walk­ing home from a school swim­ming gala with her mum and younger sis­ter along a re­mote coun­try lane in Chil­len­den on July 9, 1996, when they were sav­agely at­tacked.

They were blind­folded and tied to a tree be­fore be­ing hit on the head with a type of ham­mer.

Ge­ol­o­gist Dr Lin Rus­sell, 45, and Josie’s sis­ter, Me­gan, six, both died at the scene.

Josie, who was a pupil at Goodne­stone School, suf­fered sim­i­lar in­juries and was left for dead but has amazed doc­tors with her re­cov­ery over the years.

Af­ter Josie left hospi­tal, her fa­ther – botanist Shaun Rus­sell – took her back to north Wales, where they had lived pre­vi­ously, to con­tinue her re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion away from the hor­rors of the tragedy.

It was a long process, and it was a year be­fore Josie could speak again.

But she went on to study art at univer­sity, gain­ing a BA in graphic de­sign.

She is now a suc­cess­ful tex­tile artist with her own busi­ness, www.josierus­sell.com

Speak­ing of her en­gage­ment, she told the Daily Mail: “Iwan gave me choco­lates and said ‘sorry, I didn’t get you much’.

“Then he pro­duced the ring – a di­a­mond soli­taire – and said, ‘happy Christ­mas’.

“He did of­fer to get down on one knee and pro­pose but I told him he didn’t have to.

“It was a won­der­ful mo­ment be­cause Iwan is not only a won­der­ful man, he’s my best friend.”

Josie is also an avid an­i­mal wel­fare sup­porter and an am­bas­sador for the Born Free Foun­da­tion.

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