Pensioner who died trying to save a nurse from a knife attack was honored for his bravery

Pensioner who died trying to save a nurse from a knife attack was honored for his bravery

John Rees, 88, didn’t hesitate before intervening to stop Zara Radcliffe (left)’s rampage (Images: Wales News Service)

A heroic pensioner who died trying to save a nurse from a ‘horrific’ knife attack at a Co-Op store has been recognized for his bravery.

John Rees, 88, did not hesitate to intervene to stop Zara Radcliffe’s rampage in the village of Penygraig, Rhondda, South Wales on May 5, 2020.

The church bell ringer was standing at the counter when he saw her come in and start stabbing passing customers with a kitchen knife.

He grabbed Radcliffe’s right arm, which was holding the knife, and stepped between her and Nurse Gaynor Saurin while attempting to defuse the situation.

But as Radcliffe fell forward, Mr Rees lost his balance and fell backward.

Lisa Way and Ayette Bounouri stepped in to help him, with Mrs. Way grabbing Radcliffe’s arm with the knife while Mrs. Bounouri attempted to disarm her with a shopping basket.

Both women tried desperately to distract Radcliffe as she tried to stab Mrs Way several times while Mrs Bounouri tried to get Mr Rees to safety.

In a final act of bravery, he tried to grab the knife but had to back down.

Grandfather Mr. Rees was eventually stabbed to death with two bottles of wine and a fire extinguisher and beaten to death.

All three were awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal, the last to be recognized by the late Queen Elizabeth II.


Mr Rees’ family said the grandfather would ‘do anything for anyone’ (Image: Wales News Service)

A church leader died after suffering multiple facial fractures in an attack while out shopping, an inquest heard today (Thursday). John Rees, 88, had left his wife Eunice, 87, in their car when he went to a village co-op. An inquest found he was attacked by a woman while he was in the store and died from severe blunt trauma to his face. Pictured here is Zara Radcliffe, who is accused of the murder and attempted murder of three other shoppers - Andrew Price, Gaynor Saurin and Lisa Way...? WALES NEWS SERVICE

Radcliffe admitted manslaughter due to diminished responsibility and was arrested on a hospital order (Image: Wales News Service)

Wales’ Foreign Secretary David TC Davies said: “The three people from South Wales who received these awards found themselves in a terrible situation but all showed true heroism in standing up to protect others – actions that saw Mr Rees sadly passed away.

“Mrs. Way, Mrs Bounouri and Mr Rees faced the most appalling danger that day, and it is true that all three were decorated for their bravery.

“I thank them for their courage and willingness to take big risks to help others.”

Among the 15 recipients are the four men who confronted convicted terrorist Usman Khan when he carried out an attack at the Learning Together event at Fishmongers’ Hall in London on November 29, 2019.

Steven Gallant, John Crilly, Darryn Frost and Lukasz Koczocik helped disarm and hold Khan, who had two large knives and a fake suicide belt, until armed police arrived at the scene.

Handout photo dated 29/11/19 issued by the Metropolitan Police and shown to the jury at the inquest into the death of terrorist Usman Khan from Fishmongers' Hall in the Guildhall, London, and shows Khan being portrayed by Darryn Frost, Steve Gallant and John confronts Crilly on London Bridge after the attack. Issue date: Thursday June 10, 2021. PA Photo. Convicted terrorist Usman Khan, 28, killed Cambridge University graduates Saskia Jones, 23, and Jack Merritt, 25, on the afternoon of November 29, 2019. See PA story INQUEST LondonBridge. Photo credit should read: Metropolitan Police/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may be used for editorial reporting purposes only to simultaneously illustrate events, things or people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the image may require further permission from the copyright owner.

Fishmongers’ Hall terrorist Usman Khan is confronted after the attack by Darryn Frost, Steve Gallant and John Crilly on London Bridge (Image: PA)

Speaking on behalf of the government, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Oliver Dowden, thanked the recipients for their “selfless actions”.

“We all hope that we will react boldly in the face of danger. These people passed that test and responded in an admirable way,” he said.

“Their selfless actions have saved lives and I want to thank them deeply for their willingness to put themselves at risk to protect others.

“You are all most worthy winners of Her Majesty the late Queen’s last civil awards for bravery.”

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Justin Scaccy

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