'I asked how the hell she knew what to do and she said ‘I just did it’. She was amazing' - Mum of student locked in at Crawley College tells of her daughter's bravery

A mum of one of the students who was locked in at Crawley College as the dramatic events unfolded on Monday has said how impressed she was with how her 16-year-old daughter reacted to the situation.

Wednesday, 28th April 2021, 8:27 am

Art student Ruby Brumwell, 16, was sent with another student to another classroom to get something when the college went into lockdown following reports of shots being fired.

When in the room, Ruby put a chair under the door handle, shut the blinds, stayed down low, turned down the volume and brightness on her phone and went to the back of the room, her mum said.

Mum Sharon was so impressed by her actions and was so happy to eventually meet up with her daughter after she was cleared to leave the campus by armed officers.

John and Sharon Brumwell
John and Sharon Brumwell

But it was a scary afternoon for Sharon and her partner John (pictured inset right) - especially with the first text Sharon got from Ruby which alerted her that something was wrong. “The first thing we got from her, which was really random, was ‘I love you’ and I replied, ‘you are not getting that hoodie’ because we had discussed her getting a new hoodie at the weekend,” said Sharon.

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“But she replied ‘tell Daddy I love him’ and I was like ‘are you alright, what’s going on?’.

“And she replied: ‘There’s something going on in the college. Don’t panic.’ So from then I was panicking.

“All of a sudden my office phone rang and it was someone I knew asking if Ruby was at the college. I thought ‘this is real’.

“I called my partner and he came and picked us up at 4pm. Then for some reason all communication stopped with Ruby so we didn’t know what was going on.”

Once at the campus, Sharon and John split up – to be at both gates so they could see if Ruby was coming.

Sharon said: “The police have to stick to what they can tell the general public and said there had been an incident, but it’s under control.

“All the time we were talking loads and loads of police vehicles kept arriving. Armed officer. I looked at John and said: ‘there are armed officers, there are hundreds of them, look at them’.

“We as parents didn’t know what was going on and communication with Ruby had stopped, she wasn’t even reading her text messages.”

But eventually Ruby did get back in contact. “I told her she was doing really well and to stay calm and that they were coming to get her,” said Sharon

“And I don’t really know what happened after that, she just arrived. John was like ‘I have got her’.

“She then had to queue up by the police station to give details. She didn’t see anything and the only thing that unnerved her was when they came in and opened doors forcefully because she could hear glass breaking.

“She said that made her nervy because she didn’t know exactly what was going on. The next thing she knew there was a massive person with their face covered in front of her with guns.

“Then she was told to run and get out.

“She said to me, ‘the one good thing I learned from it was I now know where the canteen is!’ because she had to run that way.”

Once home Ruby asked to watch a film with her mum and Sharon said she seemed fine, despite the dramatic experience.

“I spoke to her this morning [Tuesday] as well and she said she was fine.

“She didn’t come out crying like some students were, she just said ‘well that was an adrenaline rush’.

“It felt like a movie had come to Crawley, but it was real.”

Sharon added: “She was absolutely brilliant. I don’t know what happened to her or what we have done as parents. It’s obviously the movies she watches but she went into a mode where she shut the door, put a chair under the door handle, shut the blinds, stayed down low, turned down the volume and brightness on your phone and go to the back of the room.

“I asked how the hell she knew what to do and she said ‘I just did it’. She was amazing.”

Sharon couldn’t praise highly enough the efforts of the police and college staff.

She said: “Me and my partner were extremely impressed with the police. As soon as we were made aware we went to the college and every road was blocked off, correctly controlled. As a parent I didn’t know what was going on but they kept reassuring me the best they could. I felt reassured with what they were saying.” And on the staff she said: “I don’t know how I would react. I applaud them for what they did. They protected all the students in the college.”

The college was shut on Tuesday and Ruby, along with other students, were doing online classes at home.