Global Citizen is a community of people like you

People who want to learn about and take action on the world’s biggest challenges. Extreme poverty ends with you.


These Are the Heroes Who Rushed to Defend London Amid Westminster Attacks

In the aftermath of a serious terror attack in Westminster, Brendan Cox, widower of the murdered MP Jo Cox, shared a powerful message of hope: “Yesterday was characterised by one act of extremism and hatred, and thousands of acts of love and kindness.” 

Read More: Britain Defined By Kindness, Not Hate, Says Brendan Cox After Westminster Attack

It’s true. In the midst of confusion and fear, ordinary citizens rushed to respond to the crisis and help those in need. Here’s a list of some of the “heroes” that we all have to thank.

P.C Keith Palmer

The unarmed police officer, who was killed after being stabbed by an unnamed attacker as he stood guard outside Parliament, was a 48-year-old husband and father. He had served in the Metropolitan Police for 15 years, and was a member of the forces’ parliamentary and diplomatic protection command. In a tribute delivered to the House of Commons, Prime Minister May described him as “every inch a hero.” Conservative MP James Cleverly, who had served alongside Palmer in the army, also addressed the Commons to pay homage to his friend and colleague. 

 “I’ve known Keith for 25 years. We served together in the Royal Artillery before he became a copper. A lovely man, a friend. I’m heartbroken. My thoughts are with the family, friends and colleagues of PC Keith Palmer. A brave man.”

Read More: 'Terror Attack' in London — What We Know So Far

PC Palmer's family released a moving statement following the attack:  "Keith will be remembered as a wonderful dad and husband. A loving son, brother and uncle. A long-time supporter of Charlton FC. Dedicated to his job and proud to be a police officer, brave and courageous."

A JustGiving page was set up to raise money for PC Palmer’s family and raised more than £730,000. 

MP Tobias Ellwood 

Conservative MP and Foreign Officer Minister Tobias Ellwood rushed to the aid of the stabbed police officer. A former Army officer, he attempted to staunch the flow of blood, and provide CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Photographs showed him with blood on his face and his hand. 

Ellwood is no stranger to the impact of terrorism, having lost his brother in a terrorist bombing in Bali in 2002. 

His actions drew praise from many. BBC Security Correspondent Frank Gardner tweeted: 

Read More: London's Muslim Community Raised £10,000 for Westminster Victims — And They're Not Finished Yet

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “Our thanks and gratitude go to the police and emergency services who responded so bravely, and to those – including the MP Tobias Ellwood – who went to the aid of the injured and dying." 

Ellwood’s mother spoke to the Telegraph to explain why she was more than proud of her son: 

“I am very proud of my son. But what he did was only what I would have expected him to do. I don’t think he was particularly a hero."

"Every single other person who was there as well was also a hero — the nurses, medical teams, politicians, and police officers. If you are going to talk about heroes then you need to talk about all of these people.”

Dr Jeeves Wijesuriya

Dr. Jeeves Wijesuriya was the first doctor to rush to assist the injured. The Chair of the British Medical Association’s Junior Doctors Committee was off-duty at the time, and being interviewed nearby for the BBC when he became aware of the tumult. After hearing screams, he raced to the scene, where he was granted access to the police cordon to assist PC Palmer and another victim.

He told Buzzfeed News: "I heard the screaming so ran to help and the police ran me in. Hems [helicopter emergency services], paramedics and police were incredible as we tried to save both the officer and the assailant.” 

Those hailed as heroes have eschewed praise, pointing to the collective response instead of their own individual efforts. The unnamed doctors and nurses who ran on their feet from St. Thomas’s hospital to to tend the wounded, the paramedics who rushed to the scene, and the passersby who stopped to help the injured on Westminster bridge, all prove that it's citizens like these that that keep the city moving.

And in the aftermath, people came together to drown out hate — from the Muslim-led campaign that raised more than £10,000 for the victims’ families in less than 24 hours, to those who rallied in Trafalgar Square.

In dark and complicated times, these are the actions that matter most. 

Global Citizen campaigns to achieve the UN's Global Goals, which include action on achieving peace, justice, and strong institutions. You can join us by taking action here. In April, we're bringing our fight against extreme poverty to London, to mark the Commonwealth Summit. By taking action on gender equality, poverty, disease, and global health, you can earn free tickets to see Emeli Sandé, Professor Green, Naughty Boy, Gabrielle Aplin, and more at O2 Academy Brixton on April 17. Click here to find out more