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’
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.