LONDON bus bomb victim Marie Hartley sent a text message to tell work pals she was safe... just minutes before she boarded the Number 30 bus that exploded in Tavistock Square.

Tragic Marie, 34, got on the bus with a colleague after reassuring pals at Hambledon Studios in Altham that she had escaped the terrorists' Tube blasts.

And in an exclusive interview, Marie's devastated family spoke of the cruel twist of fate and paid tribute to a "wonderful" mum.

Her dad John Targett, 58, of Dill Hall Lane, Church, said: "Her husband David rang her work to confirm she was safe so we thought everything was fine. It threw us completely because it got to 6pm and we hadn't heard from her, which was so unusual. She was always in touch with us, such a loving, wonderful girl.

"Then I called the missing persons' helpline and they had no record of her but gave me a list of hospitals to check with. We were getting more and more worried - we're still numb with shock - as hospital after hospital had no record either."

Marie, of White Ash Lane, Oswaldtwistle, was in London on business with colleague and friend Camille Scott, of Preston - who was blown out of the bus and is recovering from horrific facial injuries in St Thomas's Hospital, London. She has not been told of Marie's death.

The women were due to attend an exhibition in Islington where they intended to recruit new artists to produce greetings cards.

Fighting back tears, husband David paid tribute to her drive and "wonderful" skills as a mum to children Liam, seven, and baby Adan, one.

The self-employed builder said: "She did very well at Hambledon Studios, where she had worked for 19 years. She was an excellent graphic designer and achieved a lot by becoming the studio manager.

"But she was so family-orientated and everything she did, she did for the kids. She was full of life, she loved music and dancing and going out for a meal or to the pictures. She lived life to the full."

Marie's mum, Barbara Targett, 57, described the former St Nicholas Primary and Moorhead High School pupil as special.

She said: "Marie was always laughing and bright but responsible too. When she walked into a room the whole place lit up, it was impossible to miss her presence. She had a great sense of humour as well."

Her father added: "It is an overwhelming experience for us, an emotional rollercoaster. We are propping each other up and we are desperate to get back some family stability. We're emotionally washed out and miss her so much.

"We were clinging to a sliver of hope that she was in hospital but on Tuesday police said everybody in hospital had been identified and she was not among them so we have had to accept the worst."

David Dean, Hambledon Studios' managing director, said Marie's colleagues were so distressed that counsellors had been brought in.

He said: "She was incredibly talented and inspired everyone who worked for her. Everyone here wishes to extend to Marie's family their deep feeling of sorrow. We share in their sense of loss.

"Marie was a friend as well as a colleague and her great personality meant she could not only share her wonderful creative talent but had the ability to make us laugh and enjoy being with her.

"The legacy of her work will continue, not only in the wonderful images she created that we publish in our greetings cards but also in the hands of the many artists she helped train.

"Through her talent at work and her all-embracing support of her family, and especially her husband and children, our collective memories of her will never be forgotten."

Marie also leaves a brother Ian, 31, who is a policeman, and her parents-in-law Jack and Kath Hartley, of Stanhill, Oswaldtwistle.

The family said they were still too upset to make any comment about the British-born Islamic suicide bombers who caused such carnage - and took away a wife, mother and daughter.