Nick Marson, who is now 72 years old, and his 80-year-old wife Diane, say that they will never forget the kindness shown to them by strangers during the tragedy of September 11th, the two think it has helped them to improve and become better people themselves.
On the 11th of September in 2001, Nick and Diane were flying from London Gatwick to Houston, Texas, when their flight, as well as dozens of others, was redirected to Canada. The couple were two of the 7,000 people that landed in Gander, a rural town in Newfoundland with a population of just 10,000, after US airspace closed in response to the hijacking of flights.
The townsfolk of Gander all gathered together in order to welcome the arrivals, who they nicknamed 'the plane people', and offered them shelter, clothes and food. They even inducted them into their community as 'honorary Newfoundlanders' in a local tradition known as a 'Screech-In'.
Now, 20 years later, the Marsons have described how that experience changed their lives. Nick Marson said:
“I think it's made me a better person. I try to be my best self every day, be happy, make other people happy and make them laugh. We need a world full of Newfoundlanders right now because there's a lot of tension everywhere. People are shooting each other, it's ridiculous. They need to get a helping of Newfoundlander [attitude] and be nice and smile, be their best self and think about the other person.”
And Diane noted: “You never know what the other person is going through. Give them a little leeway.”
Mr Marson is a former British product engineer, and his wife, Diane, former Ms Kirschke, used to work as a fashion buyer. The two met in a shelter in the town and bonded during their five-day stay. When the skies were open again, they returned to their respective homes in the Cotswolds, Gloucestershire, and Houston, Texas, but two months later Nick proposed to Diane over the phone.
Nick Marson moved to the United States soon after the proposal and the couple married on the 7th of September, 2002. The newlyweds decided to spend their honeymoon in Newfoundland.
The Marsons’ relationship has now been immortalised in the musical ‘Come From Away’, a Tony and Olivier award-winning show that documents the landing of the 38 planes in Gander.
The family have kept in touch with those who helped them and hope to go back to Gander again next year for a 10th time to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary.
Nick Marson said: “It only seems like a few weeks or maybe a couple of years ago since 9/11 happened. The thing that keeps it fresh in our minds is the show.”
And Diane added: “It doesn't seem like it's been 20 years since we've met. It's gone by in the blink of an eye. When we watch the show, it reminds us of how we met and how exciting it was.”