Essex

Nick Alexander tribute: 'Clever' and 'charming' man

Nick Alexander Image copyright Stephen Budd
Image caption Nick Alexander worked on Damon Albarn and Ian Birrell's Africa Express music project in 2012

A British man killed in the Paris attacks has been described as "clever" and "having a lot of charm".

Nick Alexander, 35, of Colchester in Essex, was killed on Friday at the Bataclan concert hall, where he was selling band merchandise.

The director of Colchester Arts Centre, where he used to run a club night, said his death was "desperately sad".

France's Tricolore flag has now been raised to fly at half-mast over the town hall in Mr Alexander's memory.

More than 80 people are believed to have died at the Bataclan concert hall, one of the locations targeted as gunmen and suicide bombers carried out attacks.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Nick Alexander had been selling merchandise for the Eagles of Death Metal

The US band Eagles of Death Metal were playing a gig when attackers burst into the venue and opened fire, but the band themselves survived unscathed.

IS militants have claimed responsibility for the attacks.

The centre's Anthony Roberts said the former Colchester Royal Grammar School pupil ran the monthly Club Svelte night at the venue about 15 years ago and was "well-known" in the town.

"Nick came to us as a very young guy with the idea of running a club night - like a lot of young people did - but there was something about his personality and energy," he said.

"He was the creator, instigator, DJ and the personality of the club night.

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Media captionFriend Gemma Taylor says of Nick Alexander: "He cared about other people."

"He was a particularly lively and driven character and had a lot of charm, but could back it up by being clever."

Mr Roberts said the night, which ran for about two years, regularly attracted a sell-out crowd of 400 people.

A tribute night called Peace, Love and Understanding is to be held at the centre at a later date so the "community where he was loved and grew up" can celebrate his life, Mr Roberts added.

Mr Alexander, who went to university in Liverpool, had been selling merchandise for the Eagles of Death Metal when he was killed and had previously toured with a number of acts.

Image copyright Alexander family
Image caption Nick Alexander, who died in the Paris massacre, ran a club night at Colchester Arts Centre for two years

They included the Africa Express music project, founded by Blur's Damon Albarn and writer and campaigner Ian Birrell.

The project's director Stephen Budd, who is co-chairman of the Music Managers' Forum, said Mr Alexander joined them on the UK tour in 2012 and was a "complete music enthusiast", who had also worked for the Black Keys.

"He was one of life's good guys," he said.

"It was a not-for-profit project and he gave us a massively reduced rate.

"He was just a charming, sweet, enthusiastic guy.

"I've been to the Bataclan many times - they treated artists so well - it brings it home to you when you know a place and you know the people killed there."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mr Alexander's girlfriend Polina Buckley said she can't imagine her life without him
Image copyright PA
Image caption A vigil was held in Manchester's Piccadilly Gardens on Sunday evening
Image copyright PA
Image caption Crowds gathered and lit candles in Manchester in memory of the victims of Friday's attacks

Musician Yusuf Islam, commonly known by his former stage name Cat Stevens, tweeted that Mr Alexander worked as his tour merchandiser last year.

"Sending love and condolences to his family," he wrote.

Joe Trohman, lead guitarist of the rock band Fall Out Boy also paid tribute to Mr Alexander on social media, describing him as a "great guy".

In a statement released on Saturday evening, Mr Alexander's family said: "Nick died doing the job he loved. Peace and light."

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Floral tributes have been laid outside the French embassy in London in memory of the 129 victims
Image caption Flowers were left and candles lit during a vigil in Newcastle on Sunday afternoon.

Colchester Borough Council leader Paul Smith said the flag had been raised over the town hall as a "mark of solidarity" with the French people and would fly for the next three days.

"Our thoughts naturally go out to all of those whose lives have been tragically affected and altered by these terrible events, and in particular to the family and friends of Colchester citizen Nick Alexander," he said.

The Bishop of Chelmsford Stephen Cottrell said he had sent a message to the family of Mr Alexander, who was an altar boy at St Andrew's parish church in Weeley.

"We are standing alongside you in your grief and praying for you in your loss," he told them.

Image copyright PA
Image caption IS militants have claimed responsibility for the attacks
Image copyright PA
Image caption Players took part in a minute's silence during day one of the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena, London

The tributes to Mr Alexander come as a British survivor of the Bataclan attack described how he lay on his girlfriend as people were shot dead around them.

Michael O'Connor, from South Tyneside, said the scene inside the concert venue was "like a slaughterhouse" and feared he was going to die.

On Saturday night, several buildings across England were lit up in blue, white and red as a mark of respect, including Tower Bridge, the London Eye and Blackpool Tower, while the words "je suis Paris" were projected on to the River Wear.

Hundreds of people attended candlelit vigils in Manchester and Birmingham on Sunday evening to remember those killed in the attacks.

In London, people holding candles created a ring around City Hall as part of an inter-faith event organised by Citizens UK.

Flags have also been flown at half-mast at all public buildings on the island of Jersey, 12 miles (19km) from France, with many of its buildings illuminated.

Image copyright PA
Image caption People holding candles created a ring around City Hall in London
Image copyright David Cardwell
Image caption Jersey's Parliament building has been cast in blue, white and red lights and all public buildings have flown flags at half-mast
Image caption Hundreds of people also attended a vigil in Birmingham on Sunday evening

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