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Last Updated:  Thursday, 3 April, 2003, 17:00 GMT 18:00 UK
Honour for MP's aide
Andrew Pennington
Andrew Pennington was stabbed six times
Andrew Pennington was posthumously awarded the George Medal for gallantry for saving MP Nigel Jones's life in the sword attack.

Ironically, one of the reasons the Liberal Democrat councillor and party aide was at the MP's surgery was as a security measure.

Mr Jones said he believed Mr Pennington used the office's electric fire to hit Ashman over the head, allowing the MP to make his escape.

As a teenager Mr Pennington's ambition was to enter politics and his desire was to serve the people of Cheltenham and his party.

He lost his fiancée Jan Innes to multiple sclerosis seven years before he was killed at the age of 39.

Community work

Her three daughters said her death "broke Andrew's heart" and he threw himself into his community work as councillor for Cheltenham's deprived Hesters Way area.

He was described as a "man of a gentle spirit" who never sought the limelight but was happy to keep working in the background and was a keen Liverpool football fan.

Cheltenham MP Nigel Jones said he only stood for his seat in 1992 because Mr Pennington encouraged him to do so.

They had been firm friends for some eight years and Mr Pennington was his right-hand man, helping him go on to win the seat for a second term.

Mr Pennington, a former assistant to Lord Holme of Cheltenham, campaigned tirelessly on Mr Jones's behalf and was a key figure on education, youth and social services issues.

On the day he was killed he had been in an East Gloucestershire NHS Trust board meeting arguing for better security for hospital staff.

Memorial service

More than 750 mourners, including Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy and former party leader Paddy Ashdown, attended a memorial service for Mr Pennington in Cheltenham.

The service, which included the football anthem You'll Never Walk Alone, was broadcast on speakers to a crowd of about 100 gathered in the street.

The sword attack threw the vulnerability of MPs in their constituencies into the spotlight.

Sacrificed his life

Constituents now have to make an appointment to see staff at the Liberal Democrats' new offices on Hewlett Road, Cheltenham.

The party moved offices because father-of-three Mr Jones could not bear to set foot again in the building in which Mr Pennington had sacrificed his life.

The MP, who had more than 50 stitches in cuts to his hands, received 3,000 letters of support and met the late Queen Mother and the Queen after the attack.

MP's sword attacker guilty
03 Apr 03  |  England
Debts led to breakdown
03 Apr 03  |  England

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