'There was blood and bodies everywhere': Personal trainer who was staying at Tunisia terror hotel raises £13k for 'heroic' staff members who saved Brit lives

  • Nathan Priestley was holidaying with mother when beach massacre happened  
  • The 21-year-old spearheaded fundraising campaign for staff at two hotels 
  • Said Tunisian workers should not be 'left penniless' as Brits avoid resort 

A personal trainer who was caught up in the Tunisian beach massacre has spearheaded a campaign to raise vital funds for 'heroic' staff at the two terror-struck hotels. 

Nathan Priestley, from Norwich in Norfolk, was enjoying the second day of his holiday with his mother Tania Smith, 47, when gunman Seifeddine Rezgui, 23, opened fire killing 38 people including 30 Brits.

Following the disaster, the 21-year-old decided to set up a fundraising page in aid of workers at the Sousse hotels: the Imperial Marhaba and Riu Bellevue and has so far raised over £13,000. 

Nathan Priestley, pictured left with Aziz, head waiter in his hotel in Sousse, has spearheaded a fundraising campaign for staff affected by the beach massacre 

Nathan Priestley, pictured left with Aziz, head waiter in his hotel in Sousse, has spearheaded a fundraising campaign for staff affected by the beach massacre 

Nearly two weeks on more than 500 people – including friends and family of the victims and holidaymakers at the resort – have donated to workers at the hotels who Mr Priestley said had 'put on a brave face' but seen atrocious things and behaved in a wonderful way. 

'Staff at the hotel where I was saved people's lives and should not be left penniless,' he said. 

'They are heroes. The manager had three people shot in front of him but stood there, shielding people.

'The cleaners ran out and pushed people into their rooms. They barricaded them in with no thought for their own safety.

'Other staff members covered up bodies on the beach so children couldn't see them. They were so brave.

'I have heard incredibly upsetting tales of how one of the staff members had to move and cover up numerous dead bodies while the gunman was still alive just to make sure the fleeing children did not see them and other staff members risked their lives to help save as many guests at the hotel as possible. 

Floral tributes line the beach in Tunisia where gunman Seifeddine Rezgui, 23, opened fire killing 38 people including 30 Brits

Floral tributes line the beach in Tunisia where gunman Seifeddine Rezgui, 23, opened fire killing 38 people including 30 Brits

'They are incredibly distraught about the situation and their jobs are on the line as a result of 90 per cent of the guests leaving.'

Mr Priestley, who was enjoying his first holiday with his mother in 20 years, said it was sheer luck he was not injured. 

Minutes before the attack he and his mother had left the hotel, returning to find bloodshed and devastation. 

They were immediately offered seats on an aeroplane home but decided not to take them, instead giving them to other holidaymakers 'who needed them more'. 

'We wanted to stay and help the staff at the resort,' he said. 

Nathan was enjoying his first holiday with his mother Tania Smith, 47, in 20 years when the terror attack happened

Nathan was enjoying his first holiday with his mother Tania Smith, 47, in 20 years when the terror attack happened

Nathan poses by the swimming pool on day one of his holidays, just hours before the attack took place 

Nathan poses by the swimming pool on day one of his holidays, just hours before the attack took place 

'We knew how hard they had worked and how tough it had been for them. They saved people's lives. That is why I've raised £13,000 for them.

'I wanted them to know that the British do not hate Tunisians. We support them. We care about their livelihood. We will not let terrorism win. We know the majority of Tunisians are kind, caring people. 

'The staff behaved admirably. They barricaded people in their room and made sure more people were not hurt. They deserve people's praise.'

It was while he was in Tunisia Mr Priestley learnt the workers risked losing their jobs because tourism in the North African country had been so badly hit as a result of what happened. 

'I can understand it,' he said. 'It was absolute devastation there. 

'There was blood all over the hotel. There were bodies everywhere. It was carnage and devastation.

Minutes before the attack Nathan and his mother Tania, pictured together on the beach, had left the hotel, returning to find bloodshed and devastation

Minutes before the attack Nathan and his mother Tania, pictured together on the beach, had left the hotel, returning to find bloodshed and devastation

'I know why people don't want to go there. They are scared. But for Tunisia tourism is vital.

'And the Tunisians deserve our support. They were wonderful. They put themselves at risk.

'I've spoken to the manager of the hotel who said everything I raise will be donated to the staff members.

'I'm so pleased. I became friendly with them while I was there and they were really worried about their jobs and lives.' 

Explaining why he decided to stay an extra week after the attack, Mr Priestley said: 'We just wanted to help the staff who were traumatised but had to look forward. I'm glad we can give something back.'

On GoFundMe page for the workers, people spoke passionately of how they would return to Tunisia.

Nathan, pictured enjoying a drink on his hotel balcony in Sousse, said Tunisians 'deserve our support' as they 'put themselves at risk' 

Nathan, pictured enjoying a drink on his hotel balcony in Sousse, said Tunisians 'deserve our support' as they 'put themselves at risk' 

Maria Mercer, donating £10, said: 'Me and my family love Tunisia having visited several times over the years. So sad to hear of job losses etc.

'I was planning to return in October but this is now on hold until next year as my kids are just too scared to return right now. We will return to Rui Bellevue 2016.'

Anita Whale, donating £500, added: 'We as a family have visited Tunisia often and have stayed in Imperial Marhaba several times and will do so again. Thank you to Nathan Priestley for organising this fund – so vital to the staff of the hotels.'

Aimee Tate, donating £30, said: 'A huge thank you to the staff at imperial Marhaba for helping my friends Helen and Lauren I hope this goes some way to help you at this difficult time.'

'Our hearts go out to all those affected by the terrible attacks in Tunisia last week. It's heart-warming to see so many generous people all over the world come together on GoFundMe to help those affected in their times of need,' said Kelsea Little, media director at GoFundMe.com.

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