Newark Striders couple, from Balderton, visited Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris, France hours before blaze
A couple from Balderton were among the last visitors to Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris before it was seriously damaged by fire on Monday.
Nick and Athena Beveridge were with a group from Newark Striders who were in Paris at the weekend, where 13 were taking part in the Paris Marathon.
Most of the group returned home on Monday morning, but others stayed on to do some sightseeing.
Nick Beveridge, who is the club treasurer, said: “I wasn’t running, but we were there with the group.
“We were in Notre-Dame on the morning of the fire, but it wasn’t until we were at the airport later and I checked my phone that I saw it on the news.
“It was weird to see it and to think we had been there a few hours earlier.”
He said his wife was a keen photographer and had taken lots of shots, as well as a video inside the cathedral.
“I had never been there before and we queued for about 20 minutes to get in,” Nick said.
He said it would not surprise him if it was found the fire had been started deliberately.
“There was not much of a security check, and that was my first thought at the time,” he said. “They were not too careful at all.”
The cathedral had been undergoing major roof work at the time of the fire, and the cause of the fire is initially being treated as an accident.
“I hope it turns out to be something like that, and not deliberate,” Nick said.
Another member of the Newark Striders group, runner Graham Welsh, said: “We had a wonderful time in Paris and the marathon was an incredible experience.
“Like everyone, we were deeply saddened by the news of the fire at Notre-Dame, and watched the images with shock and disbelief.”