World news story

The Queen awards Plamen Petkov with Gallantry Medal

The dual Bulgarian British national who saved a child from drowning in the UK receives posthumously a rarely awarded medal.

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Queen's Gallantry Medal
Queen's Gallantry Medal

Plamen Petkov, the dual Bulgarian-British national who died tragically on 26 May 2012 whilst saving a young girl from drowning, has been awarded posthumously with The Queen’s Gallantry Medal. The recognition was published in the latest list of Civilian Gallantry Awards on 12 December 2013. Mr Petkov’s mother will be invited to receive the medal on his behalf at Buckingham Palace.

The Queen’s Gallantry Medal is awarded in extremely rare cases for exemplary acts of bravery. Just over 1000 medals have been awarded since its inception in 1974.

Giles York, Deputy Chief Constable of the Sussex Police has said:

I am certain that had it not been for the actions of Mr Petkov we would have been dealing with the death of a child, possibly lost at sea.

The British Ambassador Jonathan Allen has commented:

I am very proud that HM The Queen has decorated Mr. Petkov with the Gallantry Medal for his exemplary bravery. He fully deserves this recognition.

Many people were on the beach on the West Wittering on that sunny day in May, but only Plamen Petkov responded to the pleas of the distraught mother and found the inner strength to jump into the treacherous waters. His indomitable courage and complete disregard for his own safety saved the life of the little girl, but unfortunately resulted in his own demise.

Plamen Petkov’s noble act moved deeply the British people and the coroner’s officer that dealt with the matter attested to his bravery saying that in her five years on the job that was “the most unselfish act she had seen.

No words will ever be truly worthy of this deed. And no honour can ever fully repay Plamen Petkov’s sacrifice. But on days such as this we can pay tribute and we can express our gratitude that there are people like him.

Plamen Petkov is a true Bulgarian hero. The United Kingdom honours his heroism and his sacrifice.

About the incident

Mr. Petkov died whilst saving a young girl from drowning on 26 May 2012 at West Wittering beach, Sussex. Mr. Petkov saw in the sea a child in an inflatable rubber ring that was drifting away and was gathering speed, so he jumped in the water to try and help.

By the time he reached the child, Mr Petkov could no longer feel the sea bed so had to tread water. The child managed to get herself out of the inflatable and climbed onto Mr Petkov’s head and shoulders who then started to swim back to shore but remained underwater the entire time. Mr Petkov was unresponsive and was declared deceased at the scene.

About The Queen’s Gallantry Medal

The Queen’s Gallantry Medal (QGM) is the third level civil decoration of the United Kingdom. It is awarded for exemplary acts of bravery, and is primarily a civilian medal, although military personnel can receive it too. Recipients use the post nominals QGM after their name.

It was instituted on 20 June 1974 to replace the Order of the British Empire for Gallantry, the British Empire Medal for Gallantry, and the Colonial Police Medal for Gallantry. From 30 November 1977, it has also been awarded posthumously, and thus from that date it also replaced the Queen’s Police Medal for Gallantry.

Published 12 December 2013