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Tuesday, 30 October, 2001, 10:00 GMT
Medal for man who died saving MP
Andrew Pennington
Andrew Pennington was stabbed repeatedly
The man who died saving the life of Cheltenham MP Nigel Jones when they were attacked with a Samurai sword has been posthumously awarded the George Medal.

Gloucestershire county councillor Andrew Pennington died after being stabbed repeatedly by Robert Ashman in January last year while helping Mr Jones in his constituency surgery.

Mr Pennington tried to restrain the much larger man but was stabbed repeatedly with the sword and was fatally wounded.

Mr Jones managed to escape and went to get help.

The medal, the second highest civilian award for bravery, has been awarded for Mr Pennington's gallantry.

George Medal
The George Medal is awarded for bravery
The two men had been trying to help Mr Ashman in a number of legal disputes and he was a regular visitor to Nigel Jones' surgeries.

Without warning, Mr Ashman drew out the sword and in the wording of the official George Medal citation, "Mr Pennington hit the man from behind and dragged him off Mr Jones".

Mr Pennington, of Cheltenham, was stabbed nine times from behind - with at least six of the wounds going all the way through his body.

Mr Jones underwent two hours of surgery as his hands were badly cut.

He had 57 stitches on one hand and on the other he suffered a cut tendon.

Mr Ashman was later ordered to be detained in a secure hospital for an indefinite period after a jury decided he was unfit to stand trial for Mr Pennington's murder.

After the attack, Mr Jones paid a glowing tribute to his dead colleague and said he has devastated by the death of his "right-hand man and close friend".

He said: "He was a giant of a person, who devoted his whole adult life to serving the community. Nobody could have worked harder than Andy to help people."

'Tireless worker'

Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy also paid tribute when he said: "He was a tireless worker and represented all that was best about civic commitment.

"That he should be lost in such dreadful circumstances is beyond comprehension."

The George Medal is awarded for acts of great bravery and is intended primarily for civilians, but it can also be given to the military.

The medal was instituted by King George VI in 1940. It is the second highest civilian award for bravery after the George Cross.

See also:

25 Feb 00 | UK Politics
Lib Dems mourn lost councillor
29 Jan 00 | UK Politics
MP pays tribute to sword victim
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