ANYONE passing 52 year old Pam Warren on the carriages of the Paddington line commuter train would have no idea on the horrific ordeal she once went through on the very same journey 20 years ago.
Only tiny rituals would give her away, habits such as turning her back as the train pulls into the station and listening to loud music to drown out the sound of the train’s wheels.
In 1999, Pam was a victim of one of the worst rail disasters ever to happen in the UK. On October 5, A Thames Train service collided with her First Great Western from Reading to London in an accident that would lead to the deaths of 31 passengers.
Pam was engulfed in a fireball, leading to third degree burns across her face and body.
For 18 months after the accident she became known as the “Lady in the Mask” after donning a special protective plastic face mask to help with the healing of the skin grafts to her face.
She became an enduring image of courage and strength after the tragedy.
It took Pam 10 years to finally build up the courage to board a train again, and even today she suffers from horrific flashbacks.
But remarkably today, she battles her demons and undertakes the same daily journey that changed her life forever.
‘I refuse to let the past define me,’ says Pam, who now works as a motivational speaker, specialising in resilience. ‘I don’t think travelling by train will ever be an enjoyable experience for me, I still feel nausea every time I take one. But I simply refuse to be beaten.’