UK

London Bridge attack: Skateboard hero receives bravery award

Ignacio Echeverría Image copyright Family handout

The parents of a Spanish banker who was killed confronting terrorists during the London Bridge attack have accepted a civilian medal on his behalf.

Wielding only his skateboard, Ignacio Echeverría, 39, tried to fight off one of the terrorists who killed eight people on 3 June last year.

His parents were presented with the George Medal during a ceremony at Buckingham Palace on Thursday.

Two police officers also received the same award for their actions.

At the ceremony his father Joaquín Echeverría Alonso said it was a "special moment but very emotional" for him and his wife Miralles De Imperial Hornedo.

He said the award helped "recognise the courage of my son".

"Since Ignacio's death we have lived a year of intense emotions," he said.

"There has been pain and love and I have reflected on the meaning of duty and commitment.

"I have been compelled to think about what really matters and what is worth taking risks and fighting for; life, freedom, dignity, for oneself and for others."

Image copyright Metropolitan Police/handout
Image caption Ignacio had been working for HSBC as part of the bank's team fighting money laundering

Mr Echeverría Alonso said his son was "committed to helping others" and his bravery on the day was not just a spur of the moment decision.

He told the BBC that Ignacio had said he would have intervened if he had been passing the Westminster Bridge attack which happened three months earlier.

"Ignacio told us that if he had have been skateboarding past on that occasion then the police officer would have survived, because he would have tried to help.

"Later, during the attack at London Bridge, he demonstrated this through his actions."

Image caption Eight people were killed in the London Bridge attack

Three men drove a van into pedestrians on London Bridge before launching a knife attack in Borough Market last year. They killed eight people.

Mr Alonso said: "When terrorists attack someone they attack our entire way of life.

"They manipulate words and minds and try and convince us that they have acted in the name of a cause.

"So when Ignacio is recognised with an award, it represents the opposite of all of that."

He said he was grateful to be receiving the George Medal on his son's behalf because it showed the UK considered his actions to be "important".

PC Charles Guenigault and PC Wayne Marques were also given the bravery award.

PC Leon McLeod was awarded the Queen's Gallantry Medal for running at the terrorists and then providing aid to victims following the attack.

What is the George Medal?

Image copyright Gov.uk

The award was created in September 1940 under the reign of King George VI, initially to reward acts of civilian courage and bravery during the Blitz.

Since then it has been awarded more than 2,000 times, and some military personnel have received it for "gallant conduct that is not in the face of the enemy".

Posthumous recipients of the medal include PC Keith Palmer, who was fatally stabbed outside the Houses of Parliament in March 2017 during the Westminster terror attack.

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