I’m sure I speak for most, if not all Brits when I say I’m fast reaching the limits of the bad news. The infamous 2016, with its numerous beloved celebrity deaths, while tragic, seem somewhat trivial by comparison to the last five months.
We’re a nation which has dealt with a lot. From the Blitz to the IRA, we understand what it’s like to live with cautious uncertainty in our cities. But in eighty-five days we’ve seen the Westminister Attack, the Manchester Attack, the London Bridge Attack and now (though not terrorism related) the Grenfell Tower Blaze.
It’s easy when these things happen to get wrapped up in the media’s most popular viewpoints: ‘how awful is this?’ and ‘who’s to blame’? But what we simply cannot allow ourselves to forget are the heroes who emerge from these crises. They are infinitely more important than any blame.
I like to think I’m a decent person. I’m a daughter, a sister and friend. And I like to think I can handle a crisis. As a Coordinator in the TV production industry, dealing with emergencies makes up a third of my job. On a good day. But, as a colleague of mine so aptly put it, ‘what’s the worse that will happen if we don’t pull this off? An hour of black screen at 9 pm.’ I’m not dealing with life and death. Should I ever be in that situation, I’d like to think I’d jump to action, but honestly, I’d probably freeze.
So because I can’t fight terrorism or put out fires, here’s my tribute to a few of the heroes of the last eighty-five days. I couldn’t possibly write something about everyone because there have been so many, but here’s a select four.
- Tobias Ellwood: during the Westminister Attack, the MP Tobias Elwood fought to save the life of the fallen
PC Keith Palmer, who had been stabbed by the man attempting to force his way into Westminster. He gave mouth-to-mouth resuscitation until paramedics could get to them. In the middle of all the confusion when no one was sure what was going on, Ellwood stayed to help. Unfortunately, PC Keith Palmer did not survive. Ellwood is no stranger to this; he’s a former Army officer and lost his brother to terrorism in the Bali bombings in 2002. You can learn more here.
- Stephen Jones: during the Manchester Attack, Stephen Jones, who had been
sleeping rough outside the Manchester Arena at the time of the bombings, ran into the chaos to help as many victims as he could. He pulled nails from the faces of injured children and sat with an older lady as she passed from her injuries. In an interview, he said, “I don’t class myself as a hero. I class myself as a normal citizen that would’ve done the same as anybody else would’ve done.” You can learn more here.
- Ignacio Echeverría: during the London Bridge Attack, Ignacio Echeverría, a Spanish national, attempted to protect a woman who was being attacked. His friend, Guillermo Sánchez, told the papers, “I see that Ignacio’s
there, starting to hit [the attackers] with his skateboard,” When all instinct would tell you to run in the other direction, he didn’t. Echeverría became one of the eight victims that night. But he has been posthumously awarded one of Spain’s highest honours, the Grand Cross of the Order of Civil Merit for his bravery. You can learn more here.
- The firefighters: this is a bit of a cheat, but honestly, it would be impossible to pick out just one person. During the Grenfell Tower Blaze, dozens of firefighters faced the infurno of the tower block, packed with more than 120 flats, in order to save as many as they could. It was the early hours of the morning when the fire began, so you can imagine the chaos they walked into. If you’ve not read the news and don’t quite understand how bad the fire was, a firefighter who was there commented on Twitter, “You know it’s not going to be good when you’re told to write your name on your helmet before you go in.” Often, firefighters, paramedics and police don’t get the recognition they deserve. We, unfortunately, hold them to a different standard. We assume that because they wear a uniform, they’re somehow impervious to horror. They’re not. They’re just as human as the rest of us. The victim count currently stands at 17. You can learn more here.