More than a dozen people who risked their lives trying to save others are to be recognised for their bravery, it has been announced.
The 15 named on the 2023 civilian gallantry list include a man who died intervening in an armed attack, a woman who saved an elderly neighbour from a burning building, and several people who tackled the terrorist behind the 2019 London Bridge attack. Each will be awarded either the Queen’s gallantry medal or the Queen’s commendation for bravery – the final such awards to be named after the monarch who died this year.
John Rees, who died as he tried to prevent a knife attack at a shop in the south Wales village of Penygraig in 2020, has been posthumously awarded the gallantry medal. It will also be given to Lisa Way and Ayette Bounouri, who tried to prevent the attack and protect Rees.
Four people who tried to stop the terror attack at London Bridge where Usman Khan killed prison reformers Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones in 2019 will be given the medal. Steven Gallant, John Crilly, Darryn Frost and Lukasz Koczocik are cited for helping ensure the attack was not even more deadly.
Gallant, a convicted murderer who was out on licence attending a rehabilitation event, ran to help victims of the attacker. He then confronted him with a narwhal’s tusk – forcing him away from the room where more potential victims were sheltering and out on to the street, where he was shot by police.
Frost, who had already attacked the assailant with the narwhal’s tusk – before handing it over to Gallant – then acted to prevent the attacker detonating what he believed to be a suicide vest. He even refused a police order to move away from Khan so as to use his own body weight as a shield against the bomb, which turned out to be a hoax device.
They were joined by Crilly and Koczocik, who led determined efforts to engage the assailant with various makeshift weapons, probably saving many lives. Crilly, a former prisoner, was instrumental in disarming the attacker, while Koczocik continued to fight him off, despite being seriously injured.
Adam Roberts is to receive the commendation for bravery for his actions in the same incident. The prison officer who was accompanying Gallant to the event tried to save Jones by giving her first aid – even as Khan continued his attack nearby.
Also receiving the commendation are Ed Durante and Craig Jones, who rescued the occupants of a vehicle that crashed and caught fire on the A38 in June 2021. They are joined by Bardha Kola, who rescued her neighbour from a house fire the previous January, and PC Mohammed Nadeem, who saved a man from the River Irwell in February 2018.
Kenneth Wood and Rafal Majchrzak will receive the same award after rescuing a woman from a house fire in January 2019, as will Andrew Lax, who saved a motorist from their vehicle after a head-on collision that May.