Press release

Civilian Gallantry List: 2013

The names of the individuals who have received The George Medal, The Queen's Gallantry Medal and The Queen's Commendation for Bravery.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The Queen's Commendation for Bravery medals.

The Queen has been graciously pleased to approve the following awards of The George Medal and The Queen’s Gallantry Medal and for the publication in The London Gazette of the names of those shown below as having received an expression of Commendation for Bravery.

George Medal

The George Medal

PC Ian Andrew Dibell, Essex Police (deceased)

For attempting to disarm an armed assailant

On 9 July 2012 PC Ian Dibell was off duty and at home when he was alerted that a firearm was being discharged nearby. He went to investigate, returning briefly only to pick up his warrant card and mobile telephone. Outside a lone gunman was in pursuit of two of his neighbours who were running away, having already been shot at. The gunman was in a car that had come to a temporary stop and this enabled PC Dibell to intercept the vehicle. He leaned in through an open window and attempted to disarm the gunman. Using both his hands, he attempted to wrestle the revolver from the gunman but was fatally shot when a bullet was discharged. The gunman took his own life the next day. The coroner’s verdict was that PC Dibell was killed unlawfully.

PC Dibell intervened in a dangerous situation to protect the public from an armed and dangerous gunman. He acted without hesitation and by returning to his home to collect his warrant card and telephone indicates that he was preparing to act as a police officer to protect the local community from further harm. He knew that a gunman was shooting at members of the public and must have assumed the gunman was still armed. He could have observed from a safe distance and requested assistance without tackling the gunman. But he believed that innocent lives were at risk (including children returning home from school) and that he had to act quickly and decisively. PC Dibell chose to place himself in a violent, volatile and dangerous situation in order to protect others. He was off duty, unarmed and attempted to disarm and detain a gunman who had already demonstrated a willingness to use his weapon.

Queen’s Gallantry Medal

The Queen's Gallantry Medal (gentlemen)

PC Claire Louise Murphy, Greater Manchester Police

For saving the life of a women who had fallen into a river

On 9 June 2012, a 56 year old woman was walking with 2 children, aged 5 and 11 years respectively, and their dog along the banks of the River Irwell in Salford. The river at the time was in full flow and the water level higher than normal due to heavy rainfall.

One of the children threw the dog’s ball into the river and the dog jumped into the river to retrieve it. However, due to the fast flow of the river and a steep vertical drop of some 2.5 metres from the river bank, the dog was unable to get out and became increasingly distressed in its failure to reach safety. The woman leaned on a nearby branch and attempted to rescue her dog but the branch broke and she fell into the river. She too was unable to climb out and reach the safety of the riverbank. Fortunately, she managed to grasp some weeds and scrubs at the side of the bank and got a foothold keeping her head above water. The eldest child ran to get help.

PC Murphy arrived at the scene and immediately summoned rescue services. She reassured the woman that help was on its way and encouraged her to hold on. She attempted to pass her utility belt as a safety line but the woman was unable to reach it. With the river in full flow against her, the woman’s grasp was weakening, her head going under water several times. She was struggling to retain her hold and there was a real risk of her being swept away. PC Murphy therefore took the decision to jump into the river to save her. She held the woman using her right arm, held onto a protruding rock with the other hand and wedged her foot against something in the river.

To exacerbate the situation the foothold of the woman then gave way. She was pulled away leaving her with neither a foothold nor the clutch of weeds and just being held by the police officer. PC Murphy remained calm and continued to reassure the woman that help was on its way and she would be rescued.

PC Murphy knowingly put herself in an extremely dangerous, life-threatening situation and displayed courage throughout the ordeal and her actions probably saved the woman’s life. Due to the force and speed of the water, had either woman become detached from the river banking it is likely they would have been lost downstream. Throughout the incident she remained calm despite knowing that both her own and the woman’s lives were at risk. She continually held on, despite the force of the river against her and showed great determination and resilience.

Plamen Petkov, Civilian (deceased)

For saving a young girl from drowning

On 26 May 2012, Plamen Petkov and 2 friends were walking on the beach at West Wittering, Sussex when they saw a woman shouting for help because her young daughter was in an inflatable rubber ring that was drifting away from shore in a red flagged prohibited area. Without hesitation and despite “do not swim or enter the water” signs, Plamen Petkov entered the water and started to swim towards the child, who was by now some 50 metres from shore due to the strong winds and a strong undercurrent.

The child was being taken out to sea very quickly. He reached the child but it is believed she was too scared to stay in the rubber ring and instead climbed onto his back. He started to make his way back to shore but due to the weight of the child on his back, and the current and strong winds, his head kept going under the water, although he did manage to keep the child’s head above the water.

A female member of the public saw what was happening and swam out and managed to reach him. She took the child from him and started to swim back to the shore while one of Plamen Petkov’s friends tried to help him. Once the child was safely returned to her mother, the female then went back into the water to help.

At this point Plamen Petkov was rendered unconscious. He was dragged to shore where he was found to be not breathing. The female helper was a theatre nurse and she started to perform CPR immediately which she continued to administer until the lifeguards and ambulance crew arrived. Sadly they were unable to revive him and he was pronounced deceased at the scene.

Plamen Petkov did not hesitate in answering the shouts for help and it is likely that his selfless actions saved the life of a young girl. He must have known and understood the risk he was taking. Even if he did not, it must soon have become apparent to him but he did not turn back. Once he had reached the child he did not release her to save himself even when he got into difficulty.

The Queen’s Commendation for Bravery

Andrew Bilton, Civilian

Brian Keane, Civilian

Mrs Joanne Keane, Civilian

For rescuing 2 drivers involved in a road traffic accident

On 23 June 2013, Brian and Joanne Keane were travelling on the West Stafford bypass in Dorset when they came upon the scene of two vehicles involved in a collision. Brian Keane ran to offer what assistance he could to the occupants of the two cars.

He found that both drivers were badly injured. Having been joined by his wife, they managed to get one of the drivers out of his vehicle. Another person, Andrew Bilton then appeared and he and Brian Keane attempted to get the driver out of the second car.

Unfortunately, this proved difficult because both front doors of the car were jammed shut. By this time smoke from the other car had turned to flames but both men continued to try force the door open, but to no avail. The fire from the other car had now spread to the car both men were attending. Refusing to give up, Brian Keane managed to get the back door open, got inside the car and was able to force the driver’s door open slightly.

He then went outside and with the help of Andrew Bilton managed to open the door from the outside and got the driver out to safety. Shortly after, Joanne Keane administered first aid to the driver, ensuring that his airwaves remained open.

It is almost certain that all 3 were instrumental in saving the lives of the two crash victims. Their quick actions ensured that the victims were kept safe until the emergency services arrived. Brian and Joanne Keane and Andrew Bilton all put their lives in danger from the moment they became involved in the rescue. The crashed vehicles, which were a few steps away, could have exploded and possibly 2 of them, if not all 3, could have been killed.

PC Jonathan Henry, Bedfordshire Police, deceased

For attempting to apprehend an armed suspect

On 11 June 2007 PC Henry and a colleague were deployed to a report of a stabbing in Luton town centre. 2 other police officers were the first to arrive and the suspect was quickly located. He was armed with a knife and threatened all 4 police officers.

The police officers spread out to contain the suspect and PC Henry approached from the rear. The suspect was ordered to drop his knife but he did not respond. One officer sprayed the suspect with CS gas but it had no effect. The suspect turned on PC Henry and backed him into a confined space.

The officer was then stabbed as he backed away and fell to the ground. The suspect immediately jumped on top of PC Henry and stabbed him in the chest again. The suspect then walked away but was arrested by armed officers a short time later. The man was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.

PC Henry was aware that a stabbing had already taken place and that the suspect was still in possession of a knife. The suspect refused to comply with the instructions of the police officers present so there was a need to contain him. Despite being unarmed PC Henry took the decision to attempt to detain the suspect.

He was aware of the danger he faced when he took the decision to try and detain the suspect. He knew the suspect was armed and that he had demonstrated his willingness to use the knife in his possession. Unfortunately, due to the confined space in which he found himself, PC Henry was left with no opportunity to retreat.

PC Colin Swan, Metropolitan Police (nominated by Hampshire Constabulary)

For evacuating women and children from a burning vehicle

PC Swan was off duty and travelling with his family on 31 July 2009 on the M3 motorway when he noticed a double-decker coach with smoke pouring out of it. On closer inspection he saw that the rear nearside wheel was on fire. He pulled his car in front of the coach in order to bring it to a standstill. Once the coach had stopped, he entered the vehicle and ordered all the passengers to evacuate.

The majority of passengers were women with young children (66 in total and on a day trip to the seaside), some of whom had difficulty descending from the upper deck. PC Swan went up the stairs in order to help bring the children down and pass them off the coach.

By this time, flames were licking up the side of the coach and there was an explosion which tilted the coach to the nearside. Despite this, he continued to carry the children off the coach. As the last of the women came down the stairs there was another explosion; fire had taken hold of the rear of the coach but despite this PC Swan still went upstairs to check that everyone had left the coach.

PC Swan put himself in danger to help evacuate those on the coach. He could have been overcome by smoke or trapped by the flames or the coach might have exploded if the flames had reached the fuel tank.

Notes to editors

  • For information about Plamen Petkov, Mr and Mrs Keane and Andrew Bilton, contact Cabinet Office (telephone: 0207 276 0317).
  • For information about Ian Andrew Dibell, Claire Louise Murphy, Jonathan Henry and Colin Swan, contact Home Office (telephone: 0207 035 3836)
Published 12 December 2013